Bullying related absenteeism, staff turnover and lost productivity costs the UK economy approximately £17.65 billion.
In Acas’ new report – ‘Seeking better solutions: tackling bullying and ill-treatment in Britain’s workplaces’ – there are some key recommendations for HR professionals and employers:
1. Agree some behavioural standards
Often, what one person feels is unwanted behaviour is written off by another person as ‘banter’. The behavioural climate may vary from one organisation to the next, but everyone should be in no doubt about how they can and cannot behave towards one another.
2. Talk openly about your experience of being at work.
Too many allegations of bullying and harassment end up being managed formally when, with a bit of openness, they could have been dealt with at a much earlier, informal stage.
3. Create the right support network.
Policies provide a useful safety net if things go wrong, but why not think about appointing bullying or fair treatment officers to make sure that what happens on the ground mirrors the HR theory?
4. Promote the rights skills and levels of emotional intelligence.
Dealing with bullying cases often means being confronted with a lot of raw emotion, and this can be challenging for even the most experienced manager. Training can help, but many organisations are now tailoring their competency frameworks to recruit the managers that most reflect their values.
5. Make a clear distinction between strong leadership and what might be considered ill treatment
The secret here is to involve employees in drawing up policies and standards of behaviour: make sure your communication and consultation channels are working well and open to all.