For Immediate Release
"If ever employers needed reminding about proactively responding to all workplace bullying complaints, it would be the recent case involving an Australian fashion retail chain where an employee was awarded just under $240,000 in damages after being bullied for 11 days", said Jennifer Wilkins, founder of Know Bull!.
On the eve of Australia's 6th national workplace anti-
Ms Wilkins emphasised, "What employers need to understand is that all workplace bullying complaints, no matter how trivial they might seem at first glance, need to be taken seriously. Companies and organisations must respond and investigate these complaints. And how they respond will also be taken into consideration as well...not only by the Fair Work Commission, but by judges in any civil action that may arise as a result of bullying in the workplace."
Further, Ms Wilkins stated that workplace bullying investigations should to be prompt, thorough, discreet, and transparent. And that during the investigation the employee who raised allegations of workplace bullying i.e. the 'target' —should be supported and treated with empathy. But, Ms Wilkins also stated this is where most workplace bullying investigations "fall down".
"Research has revealed that in workplace where an active bully exists, 1 out 2 of these workplace bullies is more likely to be a boss. What's more disturbing, is these bully bosses don’t always act alone...they prefer to operate as a bully group or mob in 83% of cases. This raises serious questions about the likelihood of workplace bully complaints and investigations being dealt with in a full, fair and impartial manner", Ms Wilkins said.
When faced with the realisation that the workplace bully is a boss, Ms Wilkins noted that many companies and organisations opt for the "quick fix".
"When facing a decision about what to do about a bully boss, many organisations just want the problem to go away as quickly and quietly as possible. And they predominantly achieve this by what's known as a constructive dismissal of the target. This occurs when an employee's job or working conditions are changed with the aim of forcing their resignation. The target resigns, but that resignation is a forced one", Ms Wilkins said.
Know Bull! Day is about raising awareness of workplace bullying, and of the damaging effects is has on both staff and the organisation's bottom line.
"Workplace bullying is expensive. It exacts it toll on the health and careers of those being targetted by the workplace bully, and the organisation by way of high staff turnover, increased sick and stress leave, lowered productivity, and damage to organisational reputation...and that's just to start with. "What many organisations fail to realise, is that by addressing workplace bullying they can actually improve productivity and profitability", Ms Wilkins stated.
"That's why we ask organisations to consider supporting Know Bull! Day and Workplace Bullying Awarenes Month throughout June, and to see these initiatives as an opportunity to discuss and work on workplace bullying solutions with their employees", Ms Wilkins concluded.