Preventing workplace bullying: Five ways a proactive approach can benefit companies

Topics: National, Violence, Bullying and Abuse Prevention
April 16, 2014

Healthy Workplace The negative effects of workplace bullying and harassment are not felt only on an individual level; they reverberate company-wide. An organization that demonstrates respect and empowers staff to recognize and prevent bullying, harassment and discrimination becomes more likely to retain and attract workers. A company with a healthy work environment can even boost productivity and profitability through reduced absenteeism and increased morale.

A 2010 study from Queen’s School of Business found that almost 60 per cent of working Canadians have experienced or witnessed workplace harassment, which is broadly defined as any act where a person is abused, threatened, intimidated or assaulted in his or her employment by an individual or individuals, inside or outside the organization.

A safe environment is a healthy environment, one where employees can get their work done efficiently and effectively. “My philosophy has always been that your people are the most important part of your organization and it is our responsibility as leaders to provide a healthy environment for them to work in,” says Charlotte Ferreux, a leadership and development consultant.

Charlotte believes that a key outcome of introducing a program to eliminate harmful workplace behaviours is the opening up of communication within a company. “When companies take a proactive stance it leads to action,” she explains. “It creates a platform for the staff to understand that these issues are important and shows a level of engagement that all people wish to feel in their workplace.”

Five benefits of preventing workplace bullying and harassment:
  1. Strengthen employee retention
    Retaining employees means less time and money spent on advertising, recruiting, hiring and training workers to replace those who have left their job due to workplace bullying and harassment.
  2. Increase morale
    Demonstrating respect in the workplace helps employees feel valued. And when people feel empowered, comfortable and safe in their workplace they are likely to work harder and more effectively.
  3. Reduce absenteeism
    According to The Conference Board of Canada, unplanned absences cost Canadian employers about $7.4 billion a year. A lower rate of absenteeism saves on staff replacement costs, overtime pay and benefits claims.
  4. Create stronger corporate culture and reputation
    A company with a reputation for allowing workplace bullies and harassment is unlikely to attract high quality talent. A proactive approach to those issues can actually encourage employees to bring their skills and commitment to an organization.
  5. Increase productivity
    Avoid the substantial loss of productivity caused by sick leave and/or worker compensation claims due to the psychological or physical damaged caused by workplace bullying and harassment.
Respect in the Workplace is a dynamic online educational program that empowers all employees to understand, recognize and deal with harmful workplace behaviours.

“The program is done individually, which is fantastic because employees feel safe while taking it and it helps employers identify the issues that need to be addressed,” Charlotte says. “Then they are able to create solutions together.”

In support of the mission of the Canadian Red Cross – the country’s leading humanitarian organization – violence, bullying and abuse prevention programs aim to create safe environments, free of violence through prevention education and response. You can support these programs by donating online to the Canadian Red Cross.