Why your Business needs a Workplace Bullying Strategy

In 2016, Safe Work Australia published a report that showed the total cost of depression to Australian employers due to presenteeism and absenteeism is estimated to be approximately $6.3 billion per annum.

Workers with psychological distress took four times as many sick days per month and had a 154% higher performance loss at work than those not experiencing psychological distress. This equates to an average cost of $6,309 per annum in comparison with those not experiencing psychological distress.

Safe Work Australia sets out guidelines for preventing and responding to workplace bullying and the effects that bullying may have, including:

 • distress, anxiety, panic attacks or sleep disturbance

 • physical illness, for example muscular tension, headaches, fatigue and digestive problems

 • loss of self-esteem and self-confidence

 • feelings of isolation

 • deteriorating relationships with colleagues, family and friends

 • negative impact on work performance, concentration and decision making ability

 • depression

 • thoughts of suicide.

Workplace bullying can also have a negative impact on the work environment and incur direct and indirect costs for a business, including:

 • high staff turnover and associated recruitment and training costs

 • low morale and motivation

 • increased absenteeism

 • lost productivity

 • disruption to work when complex complaints are being investigated

 • costs associated with counselling, mediation and support

 • costly workers’ compensation claims or legal action

 • damage to the reputation of the business.

By putting strategies in place business can help to minimise the risk of workplace bullying.

Some of the strategies that business can implement are listed below:

  • Have a zero tolerance policy in place that sets out:
    •     an explanation of what bullying, harassment and discrimination is
    • expectations of workplace behaviour for all staff
    • provides easy access for reporting
    • the process for dealing with complaints
    • the support available.
  • Ensure that the policy is reviewed regularly
  • Train and educate employees at all levels on the nature of workplace bullying and how to recognise it
  • Establish a culture that encourages employees to speak up in a safe and supportive environment
  • Treat all complaints in relation to bullying in a non judgemental and confidential manner.

The team at Workplace Resolutions can assist you with implementing and/or reviewing strategies.

This article has been prepared for information purposes only and is not legal advice. For legal advice regarding your specific circumstances, please contact Workplace Resolutions directly on (03) 5499 6131 or by email at admin@wrhr.com.au

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