Recent research conducted by the National Australia Bank in conjunction with the Alannah and Madeline Foundation revealed that Australians who witnessed instances of bullying were more likely to stay quiet than to speak up. In fact, 65.1% of Australians surveyed admitted they had been in a situation where they could have intervened but chose not to.
This confirms how critical it is for businesses to create an environment where people feel safe and confident to speak up. As the CEO of the Alannah and Madeline Foundation pointed out it is vital that witnesses stand and assist. Not only will that help the person being bullied to feel supported but it has great potential in stopping the behaviour from continuing. The challenge is that people often don’t intervene because they are concerned that they will then be victim to bullying. Sadly, the results indicate that 79.8% of individuals surveyed had regretted their decision not to speak up after witnessing an account of bullying, and, 64.7% of those surveyed said they would feel confident to if they were in a safe environment or had support from others.
So as an employer what do we need to do to promote a culture free from bullying?
Employers need to ensure they have robust safety systems in place that clearly identify, assess and control the risk of workplace bullying. It is equally important that employers have a clearly defined and communicated bullying policy and complaints procedure which is readily available and understood by employees.
Workplace training on Bullying and Harassment should be provided to employees and managers and refresher training should also be provided. Those staff who have a designated role in handling bullying complaints should be provided with more specific training on the management of complaints.