Daniel: inappropriate conversations at work

Daniel makes people uncomfortable at work and now there's bullying within the team. His manager has to decide on the next steps.

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Workplace bullying can significantly impact negatively on organisations through increased absenteeism and presenteeism, higher rates of staff turnover, and high legal costs

Source: Heads up (1MB PDF)

One in five men who claim for a mental disorder in the workplace stated it involved harassment or bullying

Source: SafeWork Australia

Your employer has a legal responsibility under Occupational Health and Safety and anti-discrimination law to provide a safe workplace. An employer that allows bullying to occur in the workplace is not meeting this responsibility

Source: Australian Human Rights Commission

Why is Daniel's
story important?

Everyone is different.

When someone is new to a team, particularly if it is their first job, get to know their communication style and coach them on moderating any habits that will overstep the boundaries of what is acceptable to share at work. Early intervention on problems emerging in the workplace usually prevents them from becoming larger issues.

Do not assume interrelationships in the workplace conflict will ‘work themselves out' – they almost never do.

Address it as soon as you are aware, irrespective of how small it might be.

People might not always be aware of their unprofessional behaviours at work, and these behaviours aren't necessarily fixed. And although we all want to avoid difficult, awkward conversations, a discussion about unprofessional or problematic behaviour can clear things up for everyone, and create an understanding and set up expectations.

There is never a time where bullying is acceptable in the workplace.

Bullying is unacceptable in the workplace and can be grounds for a Fairwork claim. Eliminate a culture of bullying as soon as you witness it. Negative behaviours such as Bullying can easily grow into bigger problems which go beyond morale, and can impact performance and profitability.

Management is responsible for creating a safe workspace where bullying is not present.

What can you do?

Don't wait! If you see a negative behaviour or conversation, talk to the individual(s) as soon as possible. The sooner you do, the less awkward it will be and the less damage it can cause.

Balance any conversations about someone's performance or behaviour with the encouragement of their strengths and what they're doing well.

If it's grown into a bigger issue in a team, get the team involved in helping to build the solution. Let them be heard and contribute to a way forward.

Use your champions. Those role models who can work with you to show everyone how it should be done. And make sure you recognise, support, and acknowledge them too.

Get outside help if you need it. A fresh set of eyes from someone outside the team can help keep it cooler for everyone.

Ensure you have core policies such as:

Establishing rules about how people communicate and behave at work early on gives you something to reference and enforce when tricky situation arise.

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