How to Create an Inclusive Work Environment That Avoids Workplace Bullying

By Hayley Furer

Creating an inclusive workplace without bullying or discrimination not only means you stay on the right side of the law, but it leads to increased productivity and engaged employees. There are some simple steps to follow to create a more harmonious workplace and ensure that you are compliant.

Policy basics

Firstly, make sure you have the right policies in place.

  • Recommended policies include a Bullying, Discrimination and Harassment Policy, an Equal Opportunity, Diversity and inclusion Policy, and a Code of Conduct.

These policies should explain expectations and standards of behaviour, and the consequences of not abiding by that and the appropriate processes.

  • Include 5-10 expected behaviours in the Code of Conduct so that it’s very clear what is expected, and what isn’t acceptable.

Take a look at your organisational values, and consider aligning one of your values to diversity or an inclusive, harassment-free environment, such as ‘Respect’. You can include your values in the Code of Conduct.

Source HR can assist in creating your organisational policies. We have a library of simple, legally reviewed ‘best practice’ policies that can be easily tailored to your business.

Bring your policies to life in the workplace

It’s not good enough to have policies that just get dusty on the shelf; it’s important that your employees and other stakeholders are familiar with them.

  • It’s recommended that you provide at least annual training to employees in relation to bullying & discrimination and harassment & diversity and what it means to have an inclusive environment. This could be a one-hour workshop, or an online mandatory course for your employees.

When you are recruiting, ensure that your talent acquisition strategy takes diversity, bullying and discrimination into account. For example, you may write on your job advert that you are an equal opportunity employer. Another example could be measuring how many females or males you have in certain roles and taking action accordingly.

Set expectations from the get-go.

  • When on-boarding new employees, it is valuable to discuss the company culture and importance of an inclusive, diverse environment, free from bullying and harassment. Explain that any behaviours that exhibit bullying, harassment or discrimination are dealt with severely. You can include work, health and safety quizzes as a way to instil expectations.

Provide team building events to ensure collaboration and inclusion. An example of this could be holding a fun event, such as a trivia night or laser tag outing, or a business-focused workshop, where teams are separated. This gives everyone an opportunity to get to know people from other parts of the business.

When organising company events or incentives, remember to cater for everyone – don’t inadvertently leave anyone out. For example, not everyone may want to (or be able to) go to a nightclub and drink.

You can also create culture ambassadors or a culture committee with a key motivator of ensuring an inclusive and diverse culture – when your employees are involved in creating and ‘owning’ the culture there’s much greater engagement and success.

Lead from the front

Ensure management accountability for driving the right behaviours.

  • It’s good to get the management team to participate in training or workshops to ensure there’s consistent understanding and commitment.

Ensure there are consequences for poor behaviours, and that any disciplinary action is in line with legislation. Do not allow certain behaviours from certain employees because ‘That’s just what Andrew’s like’, or because they are great performers. Allowing behaviours from certain employees makes it OK for other to behave poorly.

Create value awards. Reward employees for the right behaviour and the right attitudes that are in line with business values or expectations. These can be an ad hoc or regular awards that become part of your company culture.

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