With a myriad of legal avenues available, it is important for workplaces to provide policies and foster a culture that stops bullying from occurring to avoid entanglement in the legal system. “Organisations that practice ‘reasonable management’ are less likely to experience incidents of bullying,” Jean-Marcel Malliaté MDR PhD(c), principal mediator at InterMEDIATE Dispute Management, said.
Malliaté stated that a positive workplace culture will result in fewer complaints, turnover and sick leave. Productivity increases and workplaces become safer. This would result in lower litigation costs.
“Early intervention is the key to prevent bullying. A proper assessment of the situation must be made within three days of a report of bullying. Initially, an assessment is undertaken with the person who has made the report, and then with the alleged bully. Once the assessment has been made, then the best solution can be determined,” Naomi Holtring MDR, managing partner at InterMEDIATE, stated.
Holtring advised that if the bullying allegations are relatively mild, a trained manager can handle them by facilitating a discussion between the staff members involved. More complex and serious issues may involve independent mediators stepping in, such as professional dispute managers. These managers should be as impartial as possible, and it may be of benefit to utilise both a male and a female mediator.
If the bullying seems more severe, then the bully should be suspended and an investigation should be carried out.
Early intervention can help safeguard an organisation from legal action, as well as preventing more dire consequences from the bullying. Malliaté stated that enlisting managers in training to resolve workplace conflict is something many organisations should consider.
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