Typically this is achieved by having a workplace bullying policy, and most organisations will have one. But when was the last time you read your policy? Was it any good?

At Russell Kennedy Lawyers, our experience is that merely having a policy is only a small part of the answer. Workplace bullying complaints are more likely to get out of hand because there are gaps in the policy, or because it does not reflect the way bullying is or should be managed in practice.

It is essential that workplace bullying policies are not just prepared and then shoved in a drawer or framed on a wall. A policy should be a living document that can be clearly understood by:

  • the staff, who need to know what bullying is so that they can avoid it, and how to make a complaint if they experience it; and
  • management, who need to know how to recognise and prevent workplace bullying, and what to do if they receive a complaint.

With that in mind, here are ten initial questions that key decision-makers should be able to answer when it comes to workplace bullying:

Policies

  1. Do we have a bullying policy?
  2. Does it usefully define bullying?
  3. Does it state that staff must not engage in bullying?
  4. Does it explain how staff can make a formal bullying complaint?
  5. Does it explain how management will respond to formal bullying complaints?

Training

  1. Do we train staff about how to informally manage their own concerns about bullying?
  2. Do we train our senior staff about how to recognise bullying and deal with informal complaints?
  3. Do we train our senior staff about how to manage formal bullying complaints?

Implementation

  1. Am I being informed of bullying complaints as and when they arise?
  2. Are we keeping effective records of formal bullying complaints, including how they are managed and any outcomes? Please contact Ben Tallboys or another member of the Russell Kennedy Workplace Relations, Employment and Safety team if you would like to discuss how your organisation can improve its approach to stopping workplace bullying.