Creating a Bullying Intolerant Culture
What’s bullying got to do with workplace culture? … Everything.
Bullying is a potential hazard in any organisation. While some industries appear to have higher rates of bullying, any organisation can be infected with it. Like a virus, it spreads by infecting and replicating itself. If you can’t stop the bully and management don’t seem to know what to do, then bullying back becomes the only way to survive. The only other option is to leave. Under a cloak of silence bullying quickly spreads and a shadow of collusion begins to permeate the organisation.
Workplace bullying is not something new in New Zealand organisations. It is often at the heart of interpersonal conflict, disruptions within teams, unproductive communication, complaints, grievances and industrial sabotage. For too long it has been called a communication problem or a personality clash. It is neither. It is negative behaviour that is unreasonable and damaging to people.
In New Zealand the workplace bullying helpline (0800ZEROBULLY) has found that 73 percent of those who experience workplace bullying and have reported it to their management have not been helped. The problem has continued despite sometimes genuine managerial efforts to prevent it. Even more concerning is that 52 percent of those who have reported it to management found that the bullying increased and that management colluded with the perpetrator, blaming the victim for the problem.
Why does this happen? It is not just about those who bully but a workplace culture that allows it to happen. The allowing of it comes in two basic forms: condoning or supporting bullying behaviour in an active way or by passively turning a ‘blind eye’ and failing to take affirmative action to prevent it. In an environment of fear and collusion no one is safe. The environment is the key.
For further information on union clauses, case law on this area and pitfalls to avoid, check out the article in full which was written by Hadyn Olsen, Director of Workplaces Against Violence in Employment (WAVE), an organisation specialising in dealing with bullying and harassment within organisations, for HRINZ publication titled "Creating a Bullying intolerant culture".