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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Getting Them Ready for Work – Disability Management

happy-employees-happy-customers-better-businessNot a day goes by without hearing of how a business is plagued with issues of workplace injury or illness. As a result, absenteeism goes way up, and revenues go way down.

One of the best ways to tackle this issue is to implement a disability management program (DMP) to reduce the occurrence and effectiveness of illness and injury on workforce productivity, promote employee engagement, and ultimately help prevent the risks that cause these absences.

Prevention is one important component of disability management. Companies should consider the importance of an Employee Assistance Program and wellness programs, occupational health and safety legislation and standards, special working arrangements, and emergency and business continuity plans.

When an employee becomes ill or injured, the expectation is that they return to work upon full recovery. We are now seeing that the longer one is away from work, the less likely they are to return.

To help your company create a disability management program aimed at returning experienced, trained employees to work sooner, I have outlined a few key components worth considering adapting into your DMP.

  • Create a healthy work environment by developing programs that speak to your employees’ needs, leading to a more positive work environment; research shows that a healthy workplace results in reduced absenteeism
  • Boost employee engagement by supporting workplace well-being initiatives, which have shown to generate higher levels of employee engagement, and in turn leads to higher-performing companies
  • Offer part-time return-to-work options to gain short-term productivity and maintain the relationship with employees who may otherwise be slow to return to work
  • Implement streamlined methods to reduce paperwork and additional costs. Streamlining could help to reduce or even prevent employees from experiencing any additional stressors. Waiting for medical appointments, medical note charges, or requests for more medical details may delay the return to work
  • Track reasons and frequency of absences in order to determine causes for absenteeism and then target programming and interventions to reduce them. You can work with your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) providers, use employee health risk assessments, anonymous employee surveys, or data from short- and long-term disability claims to gain a better understanding of the health issues facing your employees.

Absences are more likely to increase as employees age, and by being proactive and looking at patterns and causes, your company can put effective and targeted policies and programs in place to reduce productivity loss.

Do you believe your company would benefit from a structured absenteeism system? If your organization is currently tracking absenteeism, have the wellness programs offered changed as a result? I look forward to your feedback.