Charles Benayon

Founder & CEO of Aspiria


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Tips to Reducing Workplace Bullying

stop-bullyingOn February 22, Canadians will celebrate Pink Shirt Day, a day to raise awareness about the issue of bullying in our schools, workplaces and homes. The non-profit organization CKNW encourages people to wear pink on this day to symbolize the end of bullying. This day of recognition started in Nova Scotia after a young boy was bullied for wearing pink to school, and after seeing this, class members who opposed this kind of bullying sported pink shirts.

While events related to Pink Shirt Day are often highlighted in schools, where bullying is a major problem, workplaces are also encouraged to participate. This is due to the fact that while bullying is more common in children and young adults, it can follow us to our workplaces as well.

The Workplace Bullying Institute defines workplace bullying as repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators. Additionally, this abusive conduct is threatening, humiliating, or intimidating. In 2017, this kind of behaviour is not limited to face-to-face encounters. Cyber bullying can also significantly impact an employee’s mental health, and is often kept under the radar.

As an Employer:

Staff look to you to ensure they are being treated fairly and are not experiencing any kind of mistreatment. That being said, dealing with a workplace bully can be difficult. Here are my tips on how to address workplace bullying in your organization:

  1. Hold bullies accountable. If someone from your team approaches you about an issue with a co-worker or boss, make sure you speak to the person in question to get his or her side of the story. Talking to someone about their bully-like behaviour can be awkward, but you owe it to your employees who are being impacted by this person’s conduct.
  1. Have a plan in place. If someone has received a few complaints about their bully-like behaviour, it’s important to have some disciplinary measures in place to ensure bullying in any form stops immediately. After confronting a bully about their behaviour, it may be determined that this situation is a result of conflict between two co-workers, in which case mediation would be helpful. If a bully’s behaviour remains an issue, warnings may not be enough. Consult your EAP for support in this area before probation or termination results.
  1. Keep your eye out for inappropriate conduct. As a manager in the workplace, don’t just wait for someone to come to you with an issue. Make sure to be on the lookout for any kind of inappropriate behaviour in the workplace. If you notice someone is abusing an employee or co-worker in any way, make a point to sit down with him or her to discuss their behaviour. Victims will often shy away from reporting bullying incidents out of fear of repercussion to them. If you are “in the loop” on what’s going on in the office, you can save a possible victim from the embarrassment of reporting it higher in the organization.
  1. Promote awareness. Make and post anti-bullying posters, wear pink t-shirts, host lunch and learns about anti-bullying. Raising awareness about this issue can help generate productive conversations and break down the stigma of workplace bullying. 

As an Employee:

  1. Try to speak to the bully and let them know how what they are doing is affecting you. Share with them that what they are doing is not appropriate behaviour.
  1. Speak to a boss or manager about your situation. If you begin to notice that your workplace culture enables this kind of abusive attitude, speak to a manager. Employees should not be afraid to come to work, and in order for employees to work effectively, they need to feel comfortable and safe in the workplace environment. Alerting a senior staff member to the situation can allow them to take measures to prevent this from happening in the workplace.

What are you doing in your office to help recognize anti-bullying?


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Employee Recognition + Rewards = A Healthy Company

rules-good-co-worker-relationship1It has often been said that we spend more time at work than at home and recent studies back that up, announcing that 78 percent of people who work 30 to 50 hours a week spend more time with co-workers than with their families.

Although many employers want to increase employee engagement, there needs to be more attention placed on co-worker relationships because employees who have quality relationships with their co-workers are more likely to be engaged and happy at work. And happy engaged employees will mean increased productivity, and decreased time off, sickness and mental health issues.

Employers can boost employee engagement by creating a culture filled with healthy co-worker relationships. I have outlined below a few key ways employers can encourage employee engagement to create a healthy workplace.

1. Employee Recognition

Employee recognition is critical in preventing employee turnover and dissatisfaction in the workplace. Make sure you celebrate employee accomplishments, not just on a one-to-one basis, but with the entire company. Make a point to thank the employee in front of the whole department or even the entire company, depending on the size of your company. If the accomplishment has a large monetary impact on the business, then you may consider presenting them with a “high achiever” award or a gift.

2. Boost Morale

When employers encourage workplace friendships, they help boost employee morale, and encouraging supportive and trusting relationships help employees stay engaged and maintain a sense of belonging at a company.

In addition to setting up social events, which encourage employees to interact on a more personal level, employers can create an office space that encourages conversation. For example, have open office space or provide a space for employees to hang out in their free time (i.e. a small gym or even a lunch room).

3. Praise Milestones

Years ago, when an employee reached a 25-year anniversary, they were given a watch. Today, as employees do not tend to stay with the same company for a “lifetime”, employers need to invent creative milestone events to remind employees of their value to the company and how much they’re appreciated. Milestone events may include employee anniversaries, birthdays, anniversary of signing on a large account, memorable activities or other employee accomplishments.

Quite simple, if employees are engaged, recognized and appreciated they will feel happy, your company will be a healthy workplace and they will keep working hard and remain loyal to the company.

What are some ways your company has created healthy co-worker relationships in the workplace?