Question: The subject of workplace bullying is very confusing and our organisation is struggling to stay abreast and manage our obligations. How can our HRIS help?
Answer: Workplace bullying is becoming increasingly prevalent in some Australian workplaces. We have seen some serious incidents which are so severe that laws are changing to protect employees. As the laws transform, it’s vital employers recognise their responsibilities and ensure employees understand their rights and the internal processes for reporting incidents. Your HRIS has a plethora of tools to help you manage your responsibilities effectively without increasing the daily workload on HR staff.
What is bullying?
Bullying is repeated, unreasonable behaviour and it’s not always intentional. Often people are unaware that their actions may constitute bullying. That’s why it’s a good idea to run some education programs internally and make your policies clear. Some examples of bullying include verbal abuse, isolating employees, intimidation, spreading rumours, unjustified criticism and even deliberately changing work rosters to inconvenience particular employees.
How to avoid bullying in your workplace
Employers must develop OH&S policies and procedures that address all OH&S requirements including physical harm, bullying and mental harm. All Australian jurisdictions require employers to have procedures and policies in place to manage anti-bullying efforts. If your HRIS has a Health & Safety module, it should be able to help you to manage these processes and the reporting of incidents or complaints.
Dealing with allegations
If an employee raises a bullying allegation, employers have an obligation to protect the interests and privacy of all parties. Having an automated, security-rich HRIS in place will help you to manage the complaints in a timely and secure environment as well as keep a complete case history.
Education is key. Your policies and procedures should be clearly displayed in your Employee Self Service solution. It’s advisable to provide all employees with workplace harassment awareness training. This training can be managed through the Learning and Education module of your HRIS. Your Learning and Education system will also maintain attendance records that will provide evidence (should it ever be needed) of your organisation’s commitment to eradicating this alarming behaviour.
To help eliminate bullying across the enterprise, it’s crucial that your policies are outlined during the on-boarding process. If your HRIS solution automates on-boarding, that’s even better. Then you are able to ensure that all new employees follow your company approved induction process which should include education regarding bullying, and the reporting process.
Costs to the business
It is no secret that bullying can be costly to the enterprise. While no Australia-specific surveys have been completed, the Productivity Commission cites various research to suggest that in the year 2000, approximately 350,000 people were bullied in Australian Workplaces at a cost of between $6bn and $13bn.
Bullying can lead to mental stress and result in workers compensation claims. The direct costs can include increased absenteeism, staff turnover, legal costs as well as reduced productivity.
There are also indirect costs such as the negative impact on innovation and creativity, and the possibility of damage to the employer’s brand.
It’s well worth having performance measures in place to uncover bullying before it causes significant damage. This can be automated and managed through the Performance Management module of your HRIS.
Frontier Software has asked our trusted legal advisors TressCox to prepare an eBook on the topic. The eBook is designed to show employers how to prevent bullying and understand best practices surrounding anti-bullying policies. Get your free copy at www.chris21.com.au/bullying.
About the author
Nick Southcombe is General Manager, Frontier Software. For further information contact (03) 9639 0777 or visit frontiersoftware.com