In Partnership with the National Golf Course Owners Association Canada (NGCOA)
Source: Golf Business Canada Fall 2019
Authors: Brad Blaisdell & Michelle Phaneuf
Brad is the Regional Director – Respect in the Workplace for Respect Group which focuses on the prevention of bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination. Michelle is a partner with Workplace Fairness West and the Workplace Fairness Institute. Contact Brad at email@example.com and Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Workplaces are complex, dynamic environments. Like golf, to improve your overall game or operations you need to recognize and adjust your physical game, but also your mental game. Employers today recognize the value of a healthy workplace, and that psychological health and safety is AS important as physical health and safety.
How we work, who we are, our attitudes, and behaviour are diverse and unique. When everyone interacts respectfully this diversity fosters a robust workplace and an inviting operation for staff. However, without that foundation of respect, BAHD (Bullying, Abuse, Harassment & Discrimination) behaviours can creep in. According to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety these behaviours might look like:
Preventing BAHD Behaviours in your Workplace
- Spreading malicious rumours, gossip, or
- Excluding or isolating someone
- Intimidating a
- Undermining or deliberately impeding a person’s
- Physically abusing or threatening
- Making verbal or emails jokes that are ‘obviously offensive’
- Yelling or using
- Criticizing a person persistently or
- Belittling a person
If left unchecked, BAHD can turn an otherwise healthy workplace into a toxic environment and the cost of doing nothing adds up quickly.
THE COST OF DOING NOTHING
3 in 10 Canadians say their workplaces are not psychologically safe and healthy1, and nearly half report having experienced one or more acts of workplace harassment at least once a week for the last six months.2 Employees coping with these toxic work environments take twice as much sick time.3 Statistics Canada estimates the cost of employee absence due to bullying and harassment is roughly $19 billion per year.
Toxic workplaces not only affect employee absence but also impact productivity and efficiency. 80% of employees in toxic workplaces spend significant time and energy focused on the BAHD behaviour taking time away from their work and 48% reduce their effort.4 Considering an annual wage of $60,000, an example of 20% reduction in productivity can equate to a $12,000 loss per employee. This can have a significant financial impact on organizations of all sizes.
KPMG’s Diversity and Inclusion Group recently hosted a panel event in Toronto to discuss the issues around workplace bullying and harassment. Their panel included:
Louise Bradley, president and CEO, Mental Health Commission of Canada, Pamela Jeffery, president, The Pamela Jeffery Group, Soula Courlas, partner, KPMG, and Sheldon Kennedy, former NHL player, abuse survivor and co-founder of the Respect Group.
The panellists noted that ignoring the issue not only affects employee retention, but it hurts productivity and profitability.5 Experiencing bullying and harassment in the workplace can trigger mental health problems and illnesses, which, according to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, are the leading cause of short – and long – term disability.6 The economic burden in Canada has been estimated at $51 billion per year.
WHY SHOULD WE CARE?
Governments across Canada are recognizing the importance of psychological health and safety, and legislation is in effect to guide organizations to manage these issues. While legislation may differ from province to province, many have clear guidelines and expectations for employers.
Workers Compensation Boards are also accepting claims focused on psychological injuries including wording such as: clear and confirmed harassing behaviour at the workplace where a worker has been subjected to threats of harm, violations of personal privacy, public shaming or baseless threats to his or her employment status. Employers large and small have the duty to ensure their workplaces are harassment free and are exposing themselves to legal and financial risk if they do not address BAHD behaviours.
Sheldon Kennedy indicated in the panel discussion that, “Leaders and operators need to ask the tough questions to determine if this type of behaviour is happening in their organization. They need to be prepared for what they might find and be committed to taking action to address and end it.”
WHAT CAN WE DO?
A shocking 55% of surveyed Canadians reported experiencing bullying in the workplace, including name-calling, physical aggression and online taunts, according to a 2018 poll by Forum Research. Worse still, the study found that only one third of companies took action to stop the perpetrators. While pointing out the risks of not addressing the issue, the panellists noted that many organizations are taking real action to address the issue. “This isn’t just about focusing on the bad individuals,” said Kennedy. “Ninety-eight percent of individuals want to be good, so focus on them and give them the tools to be better.”
For those companies who don’t know where to start, the panellists said the most important step was instituting a culture of respect and zero tolerance for toxic behaviour in their organizations — a tone that needs to come straight from the golf course owner or operator, or general manager. “This will require a willingness from leadership to face the hard truths about what is happening inside their walls,” said Courlas. “Bullying can be subtle. Education is key to helping people recognize it. Leadership has a duty to proactively work towards eradicating this type of behaviour, which will inevitably help unlock the best of their people. Making good people better is the end goal and is completely attainable.”
WorkSafe BC has created guidelines to support employers in responding effectively:
ENCOURAGE everyone at the workplace to act towards others in a respectful and professional manner.
HAVE a workplace policy in place that includes a reporting system.
EDUCATE everyone that bullying is a serious matter.
TRY TO WORK OUT solutions before the situation gets serious or “out of control.”
EDUCATE everyone about what is considered bullying, and whom they can go to for help.
TREAT all complaints seriously, and deal with complaints promptly and confidentially.
TRAIN supervisors and managers in how to deal with complaints and potential situations. Encourage them to address situations promptly whether or not a formal complaint has been filed.
HAVE an impartial third party help with the resolution, if necessary.
They recommend that organizations act as soon as possible, not ignore any potential problems and not delay resolution.
Employers large and small must implement procedures for responding to reports or incidents of bullying and harassment. The procedures must ensure a reasonable response to the report or incident and aim to fully address the incident and ensure that bullying and harassment is prevented or minimized in the future. Investigations into the incident may be required or an impartial third party may be a resource for resolving the situation or restoring the workplace after an investigation has taken place.
In addition to clear policies and procedures, other best practices include a no-reprisals policy, confidential whistleblower lines, a workplace Ombudsman and due diligence on new hires.
HOW CAN WE BE PROACTIVE?
Thankfully, today’s work climate is changing. Top organizations are less reactive and more proactive than ever before. Employee wellness has become a priority because happy, engaged employees are more productive, collaborative, and innovative and will be much more client focused. Meeting and exceeding client expectations is next to impossible if trust between co- workers is broken, they are not engaged, appreciated, or acknowledged for the good work they do.
According to Wayne McNeil, co-founder of Respect Group, “Polices and procedures are necessary, but they typically sit on the shelf until an issue arises. You really do need to have proactive training that creates standards, empowers the bystander and refers to the policies/procedures. Ultimately, your risk mitigation strategy needs to be in sync with your desire to drive a positive culture.”
He indicates that this message needs to come from leadership. It can start with HR professionals saying that they need to be proactive; they can plant the seed. But the tone of the culture, the commitment and the accountability must be set by senior leadership.
Blaine Donais, president and founder of the Workplace Fairness Institute says, “Unresolved conflict is one of the top 5 indicators of bullying and harassment. Organizations need to ensure that employees have options to successfully resolve conflict. We have found that instituting a Workplace Ombudsman Office provides employees with a safe, confidential space to support in the resolution of conflict.”
Bullying, Abuse, Harassment, and Discrimination can be successfully addressed when it appears, and golf course course owners and operators can take steps to be proactive in preventing these behaviours. These steps will help your organization to create an environment in which employees can be successful, thereby ensuring your operation’s success.
(5 )www.cos-mag.com: Addressing workplace bullying, harassment must be a business priority, Panel January 31st, 2019