Bullying is a serious issue in small business workplaces across Australia. It doesn’t just impact those involved but business profits, revenue, productivity and morale.
Since COVID-19 there has been an increase in bullying and a reduction in workplace trust. Estimates published from The Productivity Commission indicate workplace bullying costs the Australian economy up to $36 billion per annum.
Toxic and bullying behaviours are crippling for small businesses when valuable employees exit and/or make complaints with Fair Work resulting in WorkCover claims.
A report from the Psychosocial Safety Climate & Better Productivity in Australian Workplaces (PSC) commissioned by Work Safe Australia found:
These findings will impact small businesses who don’t have the resources or skills to navigate COVID normal and steps to remain open and viable.
Since COVID-19 there has been an escalation of bullying and harassment issues and erosion of trust as a result.
Using COVID-19 as an “excuse” to ratify bullying by staff and owners has intensified with passive-aggressive behaviours going unchecked and sanctioned by separation.
Neuroscience of human nature shows that in crises, existing harmful behaviours are magnified. Whilst there has been an enforced moratorium of face to face bullying, many have pivoted delivery of unacceptable behaviours. Or have become temporarily dormant. As will be evident when work from home restrictions are rolled back.
There has been an increase in discrimination, micro-management, sexual harassment, KPI and sales pressures and toxic employee behaviours going under the radar. Of concern is when COVID safety obligations being ignored by staff and protection requests being denied by business owners. The latter issues can shut down a business or receive heavy fines due to legislation.
Most workplaces have and will continue to be impacted for some time by COVID-19. Even for those with nil or low issues, the challenges ongoing can create the perfect firestorm for future conflict. Prevention and intervention strategies are essential.
Trust is the cornerstone of healthy workplaces. Eradicating bullying and the underpinning behaviours will minimise financial, reputation and human damage. Don’t turn a blind eye – take ownership.
Maureen Kyne, Founder, Maureen Kyne & Associates