Harassment and discrimination remain a problem in some workplaces across Canada. Most employers are aware of this and take actions to prevent and resolve such behaviors in order to protect their employees.
However, in recent years, bullying has become a separate issue. Employers need to take action in order to stop it before it starts and/or deal with instances as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Ontario companies can take numerous steps to prevent bullying in the workplace. Some of these steps are similar to those associated with harassment and discrimination.
The first line of defense is often creating policies prohibiting certain actions and behaviors. Policies and procedures must include as much specificity as possible in order to avoid any confusion or miscommunication – since employers not only need to protect workers from bullying, but also need to make sure that those accused have a clear understanding of what it constitutes and the potential consequences.
Once policies and procedures are created, everyone in the organization needs to be made aware of them. Holding training sessions, disseminating the information and requiring employees to acknowledge receipt and understanding of the information could all help ensure that the company gets the word out. In addition, the information could be prominently displayed in areas where employees can readily see it.
While a primary concern of many company owners is to make sure no one suffers from issues such as workplace bullying, harassment or discrimination, another concern also exists. Since not everyone will follow company policies and procedures, the possibility of someone violating company policies remains a concern. In these cases, the company needs to make sure it responds to the victim bringing forth allegations. The more diligent a company is in handling these issues internally to the satisfaction of the victim, the less likely it is that an employee will turn to the courts for a resolution.