If you are operating a business in Alberta, chances are good that in the past year, you have addressed a complaint about harassment and bullying in the workplace. According to our Fall 2019 HR Trends Report, 62% of human resources professionals reported that their organization received at least one formal complaint and 27% saw an increase in the number of complaints compared to the previous year. This is not surprising when you consider the rise of the #metoo movement as well as the fact that Bill 30 came into effect on June 1, 2018. Both factors have contributed to an increased awareness of bullying and harassment in the workplace.
The good news is most organizations in Alberta with HR professionals have policies in place to address harassment, bullying, and violence in the workplace. Overall, 82% have a respectful workplace policy and 9% are currently developing one. Additionally:
87% OF ORGANIZATIONS HAVE A POLICY CONCERNING WORKPLACE HARASSMENT
85% HAVE A VIOLENCE IN THE WORKPLACE POLICY
85% HAVE A POLICY TO ADDRESS SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND SEXUAL ASSAULT IN THE WORKPLACE
If, as an organization, you don’t yet have these types of policies in place then now is the time to begin creating a psychologically safe workplace. Creating such policies are only the beginning. As with all policies and procedures, they are only effective if people are aware of them, understand them and are trained to follow them. It is critical that all employees understand their responsibilities in creating a psychologically safe workplace and understand how to report an incident of bullying or harassment. CPHR Alberta’s HR Trends Report found that 9 out of 10 organizations have a framework in place for employees to formally submit a complaint, but that organizations with less than 100 employees are less likely to have a framework. If you are not sure how to establish an effective framework for these sorts of complaints, start a conversation with your HR leaders.
Offering respectful workplace related training is an area where Alberta organizations can improve. Only two-thirds of respondents indicated that their employer offers this kind of training to their employees and only a little more than half require employees to complete this respectful workplace training. Respectful workplace training will equip your staff with the tools to:
RECOGNIZE BULLYING AND HARASSMENT BEHAVIOUR
RESPOND APPROPRIATELY IN SUCH SITUATIONS
As you likely know, harassment and bullying is not just a concern you face from peers or leaders, but also from the general public. A 2016 survey by Statistics Canada found that among respondents who experienced harassment at the workplace, 53% of women and 42% of men stated that the harassment they experienced came from a client or customer. Be sure that your policies and training take into account this potential source of harassment.
Employers must also be prepared to follow through on complaints. When a complaint comes in, take it seriously and follow your policies and procedures. Employers are required to fully investigate complaints and take appropriate action or they leave themselves open to the possibility of an OH&S investigation. Have a trained investigator conduct the investigation in a timely manner. If you don’t have someone in-house who is trained to investigate, engage a qualified and experienced third party. CPHR Alberta has a directory of HR consultants, many of whom are experienced in conducting workplace investigations.
After an investigation concludes, be committed to correcting and mitigating any allegations that were founded. If a complaint is found to be substantiated follow through with appropriate discipline, otherwise, you will be negating your responsibility as an employer of ensuring a safe workplace.
Treating the workplace hazard of bullying and harassment seriously will have a positive impact on your organization. When employees feel psychologically safe at work, they will be more productive, and that will be good for your business.