Friday, July 26, 2024

Workplace harassment training is essential


All organisations in Australia face the challenge of dealing with workplace harassment – and Local Government bodies face special challenges.

Workplace safety regulators are taking a strong line on workplace psychological injuries. In New South Wales, for example, a strategy document released by SafeWork NSW reports that psychological injuries are increasing at more than double the rate for physical injuries. And SafeWork has made it clear they are going to come down hard on employers that don’t protect their staff.

Sexual harassment is all over the news at present. It’s not just the cases that hit the headlines – it’s also the reports, for example from the Human Rights Commission, that more than 40% of female workers and more than 25% of male workers report having been sexually harassed at work. (And the HRC says it’s much worse in male-dominated industries.)

For Local Government bodies the risk of sexual harassment incidents can be significant – many of their teams are traditionally male dominated, and the introduction of female workers into the teams is a very recent phenomenon. Councils are finding it necessary to move quickly to address the possibility that problems may arise.

WHS Risks

There can hardly be a more significant risk factor for workplace psychosocial injuries than sexual harassment, discrimination, and bullying. Commonly, we see people coming out of these situations suffering severe, lifelong psychological harm.

In many cases of workplace sexual harassment, we find that there is workplace culture that legitimates peer-to-peer harassment. This can be because the team members are unaware of the effect that harassment can have on their colleagues, or because they have not been exposed to proper training on the subject. In other cases, the culture persists because the team manager either approves of the culture or fails to take effective action to repair it.

Training for People Managers

If organisations are going to protect themselves from the very serious of workplace harassment and workplace psycho-social injuries, then it is clear that they need to make sure their people managers are up to the task, and in many cases this will require a change to the organisation’s training culture.

Organisations need to understand that properly addressing workplace sexual harassment issues involves bringing about a cultural change. The prevalence of sexual harassment cases shows that the traditional method of simply telling staff about the relevant laws, and disciplining those that transgress, is proving to be ineffective.

Organisations need to bring about a workplace cultural change that involves, among other things:
 the significant change of emphasis from a regime focussed on penalising bad
behaviour to one focussed on mandating good behaviour
 a cultural change that involves creating a culture of respect and equality
 an attitudinal change on the shop floor

Change Management

We know that for any significant cultural or behavioural change to succeed, it must
be championed at a senior level in the organisation.

This involves managers:
 clearly exhibiting the required behaviours themselves
 resolutely supporting those people in the organisation tasked with
implementing the change
 not tolerating any failure to comply, no matter by whom

Free Webinar 17 July 2024 1PM AEST

In this one-hour webinar, two of GRC Solutions’ training and management experts will discuss how workplace harassment training can be made much more effective by taking a positive approach towards building a workplace where respect and diversity are core values. It will include practical insights from our presenters’ own experiences.

More information and to register here.

GRC Solutions has a range of eLearning courses including Workplace Behaviours specifically designed for the local government sector.

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