Managing reports of Bullying


How to respond to workplace bullying or harassment?

Directors of Clinical Training, Medical Education Officers, Supervisors or Managers

Workplace bullying or harassment is best managed by responding as soon as possible after becoming aware there is a problem. Responses will vary depending on the situation, the number of parties involved and the size and structure of the workplace.

Consider the following when responding to workplace bullying:

  • Is the behaviour bullying or not?
    The type of behaviour occurring may need to be determined to develop an appropriate response. For example, if the behaviour is discrimination or sexual harassment it will require a different response to workplace bullying.
  • Does the situation warrant measures to minimise the risk of ongoing harm?
    If necessary interim measures should be taken to minimise the risk to health or safety. This may involve temporarily reassigning tasks, separating the parties involved or granting leave.
  • Do I have a clear understanding of the issues?
    Seek additional information to ensure a clear understanding of the parties involved and the specific behaviour or behaviours thought to be unreasonable. This may be achieved by speaking to others who may have observed or participated in the behaviour.
  • Do I need additional information or assistance?
    People with specialist roles in the organisation or external specialists may be able to provide information (e.g. Human Resources (HR) area), help identify the issues and develop potential responses to address the behaviour.
  • Can the matter be safely resolved between the parties or at a team level?
    In some situations it may be possible to use a no-blame conciliatory approach to help individuals reach an outcome that will ensure the unreasonable behaviour ceases. A proposed resolution should be discussed with the person who reported the behaviour to check they are comfortable with it.
  • Should the matter be progressed to an investigation?
    Depending on the severity or complexity, some matters may need to be investigated. Seek assistance from HR with this.

A person may choose to resolve issues by self-managing the situation. This usually involves telling the other person the unreasonable behaviour is not welcome and asking for it to stop. If an individual does not feel safe or confident with approaching the other person they can seek the assistance of a supervisor or manager, human resources officer, their health and safety representative or union representative.

Supervisors and managers should intervene when they observe unreasonable behaviour in their work teams or if they are requested to intervene by a member of their team. If a supervisor or manager approaches an individual directly about their behaviour they should record the actions taken. Supervisors/managers should know how and when it is appropriate to escalate an issue.

Guide for Preventing and Responding to Workplace Bullying.  safe work Australia 2013