Addressing Bullying in the Workplace

workplace bullying and harassment investigations vancouver

Let’s talk conflict.

Sometimes, despite our best efforts and training resources being implemented, conflict manages to find its way into our workplaces and cause significant damage over time. No matter how prepared you may think you are, the reality is, when you find yourself facing accusations of bullying and harassment from one employee towards another, it can be hard to know exactly how to handle the situation properly. At Pivot HR, we understand just how stressful it can be to navigate workplace conflict, as well as just how dangerous toxic work environments can be for the entire team. Based in Vancouver, BC, we’re proud to partner with clients across British Columbia, as well as the rest of Canada to offer valuable HR expertise, and to make sure you have the help you need when it matters most.

Below, we’ll talk about bullying and harassment in the workplace, as well as some of the key resolution details you’ll need to know when dealing with this kind of conflict within British Columbia specifically. Read on to learn more!

What Constitutes Bullying and Harassment?

Within the HR world, bullying and harassment is a common topic, and for good reason. As one of the most toxic patterns of behaviour, bullying and harassment can have significant negative effects on your entire team, including the individuals that are directly involved. While the most obvious and indisputable forms of this kind of abuse are physical acts or direct threats being uttered, workplace bullying can often be more subtle and occur as a pattern of little put downs over a period of time.

Because workplace bullying is often less overt than we tend to think, it can be perpetuated for a considerable period of time before a complaint is made, making it important for managers and leadership to stay acutely aware of the signs in order to act swiftly. While this is by no means an exhaustive list, workplace bullying frequently involves rude treatment and disrespect, the use of threats or intimidation, deliberate acts committed to prevent another from working safely, spreading rumours, making inappropriate jokes, excluding or isolating a team member(s), and more. It’s important to note that bullying is not upholding standards or disciplining improper conduct, nor providing constructive feedback or fairly evaluating work.

What to Do if you Witness Workplace Bullying

Workplace bullying is a dangerous occurrence because left untreated, it won’t just affect the bully and their target. As other team members notice these things occurring, or worse, join in, negativity will start to dismantle your team dynamic and create discord that can be hard to come back from. Therefore, the moment you notice any of the above behaviours, it’s important to jump into action.

Employers should have a clearly documented policy with procedures to handle bullying or harassment when it occurs that clearly outline a safe and fair path forward for all parties. Your procedure should outline how investigations are conducted, who is involved, the roles of all involved parties (including external parties that may be conducting audits), follow-up commitments, disciplinary measures, record-keeping requirements and more. This way if and when conflict occurs, you’ll be able to move quickly and have confidence in your actions while also finding the best resolution for everyone involved.

Dealing With the Aftermath

After resolving an investigation, it’s important to realize that your work isn’t quite over yet. While conflict is never pleasant, it gives us the chance to see areas where we can improve, including taking a look at our overall workplace culture and what may have allowed for such issues to take root in the first place. Partnering with an external HR firm can make navigating tricky waters safe and comfortable, and help you set up a clear path back to success.

With extensive industry experience on our side, Pivot’s team of HR consultants are happy to partner with clients through British Columbia as well as across Canada to conduct workplace assessments and devise custom training plans to help your workplace culture get back to a happy, healthy, environment for all. Learn more about how our services and how to get back on track by contacting us today!

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