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Workplace Bullying


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Workshop Session Plan
Key Learning Outcomes

Workshop Focus:
Overview of Occupational Health and Safety legislation and WorkSafe Guidance Notes
2 hour briefing (facts), 4 hour half day (role plays)
Target Audience:

Management, Staff
Expected Outcomes:
Raising awareness of legislative and WorkSafe guidance materials and role play appropriate behaviours.

Here is a cartoon video on workplace bullying by the Workplace Bullying Institute.



Many workplaces these days are extremely busy and there is not the time to notice conflict in the workplace unless it becomes overt. Often bullying can be consciously or unconsciously ignored as it is not a physical injury where clear proof can be validated by the injury and clear steps taken. Bullying is a psychological injury and the injury is invisible which makes it hard to detect and untangle from normal workplace disagreements. Covert bullying is very hard to prove and there will be a reluctance to report it or complain. Bullying can take on insidious and passive aggressive tones that are hard to identify. Many employees do not want to rock the boat, get involved or risk their jobs and therefore participate in a culture of silence and fear when bullying is occurring.

The key challenges for CEO’s and those in authority is that staff often keep out of the way of management to do their work and hide negative interactions with other staff, pretending to be professional and neutral, thus it can appear all is fine in the workplace. Management may conclude that all is running smoothly when it is not.  The onus of prevention is on management and it is vital that managers and supervisors have an up-to-date Bullying Policy and procedures to prevent, manage and report bullying in their workplace. Whilst business may consider it an undue expense to invest in training, in reality the opportunity cost of not responding to bullying is far higher.  However, with investment, over the longer term, management will gain substantially through productivity improvements, retention of staff, stress reduction, innovative thinking, positive cultures where work becomes a place people look forward to going to. Presently there is an estimated 1:5 who are experiencing some form of mental illness and increasing numbers taking anti-depressants. Many staff feel either overwhelmed or disempowered to know how to deal with bullying albeit, covert or overt. The work done to prevent bullying will be a learning journey for management, not one to be avoided but to be embraced. It will provide management with a better understanding of staff dynamics, personalities, how people work together effectively, problem solving capacities, emotional intelligence and leadership skills. So within conflict there are always opportunities for personal and professional growth.  Proactive leaders will be on the leading edge to develop positive workplace cultures for the future.

It is important for management and staff to gain insights into the phenomenon of bullying, understand the impacts, the legislation and the responsibility of all people in a workplace to ensure it is prevented or stopped.  The workshop is both informational and experiential.

The workshop is delivered as a 2 hour workshop designed to give a briefing to all managers and staff.  The half day workshop (4 hours) introduces role play scenarios and activities to experientially understand how to deal with bullying in practice.

Workshop Session Plan:

Overview: 2 hours

  • Brainstorming session
  • Legislation
  • Fines
  • Bullying incidence
  • Direct and indirect costs of bullying
  • Bullying: overt and covert behaviour
  • What is not bullying?
  • Why do people bully?
  • Drawing a line in the sand!
  • What you can do?

Experiential workshop: half day

  • Activities to develop an practical understanding about power, non-resistance and communication
  • Role play bullying scenarios
  • Debriefing with the group.

Key Learning Outcomes:

  • Participants will learn about workplace bullying from a government/societal perspective;
  • Participants will have an overview of key WorkSafe Guidance materials;
  • Participants will gain insights into the fines imposed on management and staff for breaches;
  • Participants will be aware of the criminalisation of bullying;
  • Participants will become aware of the incidence and costs of bullying;
  • Participants will learn about the rationale behind bullying;
  • Participants will understand what bullying is not;
  • Participants will have a better understanding of when to stop bullying and what they can do when it is occurring.
  • Participants will explore power dynamics;
  • Participants will learn about non-resistance;
  • Participants will learn about listening and communication skills;
  • Participants will role play bullying scenarios and practice dealing with bullying