In 2011, a strong push was made to change the law around the epidemic of stress related illnesses caused by “workplace stressors”. Maybe Bill 14 only made it to First Reading, but watch for it to resurface in some form in the Spring of 2012.
“Workplace stressor”? In plain language, YOU, the employer, may soon be officially responsible to make your workplace free of badgering, harassment and bullying. If you don’t, it will cost you a great deal of money.
If one of your subordinates ends up diagnosed with a mental stress disorder and it’s discovered to be caused by “a significant work-related stressor, or a cumulative series of significant work-related stressors, arising out of and in the course of the worker’s employment”, they will be entitled to compensation through Worksafe and your rates will go up.
Think this Bill will never pass? Bill 14 was introduced by the BC Liberals while the opposition introduced a “Workplace Bullying Prevention Act, 2012” (Bill M 212). It looks as though both sides of the legislative assembly in BC are ready to crack down on companies who don’t pay attention to … soft skills.
So … what’s the quickest way to fix this?
Your managers and supervisors cannot turn a blind eye to internal disputes, passive aggressiveness and the other craziness that goes on when one employee decides to pick on another for ANY reason, even if the employee feels completely justified.
These problems do NOT work themselves out on their own. You need to have a policy in place AND enforce it!
Scarier still, from most of the stories I hear from employees, employers need to watch themselves. I hear of employers demanding 60 to 80 hour work weeks and implying that these employees’ jobs may be on the line if they don’t comply, telling the employee to “pick up the pace”. Workers “burn out” and start to lose productivity and credibility. They are demoralized, stressed, and their self-worth tanks. Some have anxiety attacks and end up at their doctors’ offices. That’s when their bosses get even worse, forcing the employee to use up holiday time and then trying to bully the employee into quitting on their own. Have they never heard of the term “constructive dismissal”?
If this scenario sounds familiar in your workplace, you are vulnerable to having to spend far more money than it would take to hire and train more staff that you may have to lay off later. It’s time to make a change.
Here’s the good news. This is a huge opportunity for workplaces to boost company morale by doing the right things for the right reasons! If ANY bullying exists in your company, it will be addressed and dealt with, you will increase loyalty and productivity and you will find everyone’s work day runs much more smoothly! With set policies, those who WOULD be bullies, will find ways to control themselves, or will “self-exit”. Those who are being bullied will be more likely to set healthy boundaries and do some of your enforcement work for you.
Need to help your supervisors quickly and efficiently handle bullying situations? Or do your supervisors need to develop better ways to deal with people, and these stress, morale and productivity issues? Contact Carol Carter for more information.
Need a new workplace harassment policy? Here’s an excellent resource from First Reference. Also important to note, WorkSafe BC has a tool kit to help reduce the risk of domestic violence in the workplace … yes, that is your responsibility as well.
Know your staff. Care about your staff. Look after your staff.