It’s 10:45am on a Friday morning – you greet a regular patron, Karen who is leaving the premises. Although she could normally be expected to stay and play her favourite pokie until Bingo starts at 1:00pm, Karen says that she hasn’t been able to get the attention of Tanya, a new employee to take her order and is leaving in frustration. As this isn’t the first time this has happened, you go to confront Tanya about her behaviour and find her standing in a corner, looking depressed and avoiding the attention of customers.
When you ask her what is wrong, she tells you that her supervisor has been making rude comments to her and mocking her in front of other staff, telling them to ignore her. Tanya admits that she doesn’t want to be here but can’t quit because she needs the job.
How could you have stopped this from happening?
The link between good customer service and profits is one that can’t be ignored. In the hospitality environment your patron’s experience can be heavily affected by the morale and motivation of your staff. Bullying in the workplace undermines the efforts put in place to create a positive work environment where everyone treats each other with respect. Changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 and the introduction of a new ‘Guide for Preventing and Responding to Workplace Bullying’ bring how bullying is dealt with in the workplace to the fore.
Taking a pro-active approach to preventing and responding to workplace bullying can have significant business benefits including improving customer experiences, retaining good staff and avoiding costly workers’ compensation claims or legal action. The changes to the Fair Work Act, to come into effect in January 2014, mean that workers also have recourse to the Fair Work Commission if they believe they are being bullied and their employer is not intervening. The Fair Work Commission will be able to hear claims of workplace bullying and issue a work order to stop the bullying from continuing, if the work order is not met fines can be imposed.
As well as these changes, new guidance material was released in November 2013 by Safe Work Australia which details how an organisation’s legal duties to prevent and respond to workplace bullying can be met. The differences between this guidance material and the current Queensland code released in 2004 include changes in terminology, updated guidelines for polices and additional strategies to prevent and respond to workplace bullying.
What does this mean for me?
- Consult with workers regarding bullying in the workplace.
- Review your policy and procedure to ensure it meets the requirements of the new guidance material (if you don’t have one already now is a good time to put one in place).
- Provide training to workers on acceptable workplace behaviour.
To find out more information on anti-bullying strategies, contact Michelle Pitman or email email@example.com.