As media scrutiny over schoolyard and cyberbullying pervade the news, allegations of workplace harassment and bullying are on the rise. Media reports reveal the deleterious and even deadly impact that bullying can have on children in our communities. Unfortunately for employers, adults in our workplaces sometimes engage in similar transgressions. While the popularization of the terms "bullying" and "harassment" has both educated and empowered employees to assert the right to a respectful workplace, it has conversely sometimes resulted in overuse of the terms and meritless complaints in relation to reasonable management measures. Employers are left with the difficult task of managing all competing interests to ensure a safe, respectful and productive work environment.
One Canadian professor previously estimated that a whopping 40% of Canadians experienced one or more acts of workplace bullying at least once a week.(1) Although it is difficult to determine exactly how much harassment and bullying actually occurs in Canadian workplaces, we can be certain of the impact of such conduct. Workplace bullying and harassment create a toxic work environment resulting in many negative effects which may include: decreasing productivity, increasing employees' use of sick days, damaging employee morale and causing attrition of good employees. It can also result in significant legal liabilities. Considering all of these potential impacts, the tangible and intangible costs of workplace harassment and bullying can be high. This should be reason enough to motivate employers to expeditiously address such issues; however, for those not motivated by practical business measures or healthy employee relations, we should also consider the expansion of Canadian laws to protect workers from harassment and bullying, and the significant liabilities that can arise when such issues are not properly addressed.
The Why of Change
Dr. Carol A. Beatty, Queen's IRC Facilitator
The first thing people want to know when a change is proposed is why this change is necessary. If you don't have a very good answer, then they will not buy into your change initiative. Statistics show that having a good percentage of supporters at the outset of a change initiative is strongly associated with success.
Don't believe me? Then just think about the constant "why" questions your child may be plaguing you with. Children want to know why they should eat that vegetable, why making their bed is necessary, why they have to go to bed now, why they cannot watch that television show. Adults may be too sophisticated to ask why out loud, but rest assured that question is uppermost in their minds when a change that affects them is proposed. So your first task in change is to answer those "why" questions. This requires rigorous honesty, hard thinking and hard work, plus some very tough choices.
This paper addresses how to create the felt need for change and a sense of urgency for the change throughout the organization.
Flashback Feature: Shifting from Traditional to Mutual Gains Bargaining: Implementing Change in Canada
Michel Grant, Université du Québec à Montréal, 1997
The significant transformation of the Canadian economy and system of production in the past decade has not left the industrial relations system untouched. Managers and union leaders have become more and more aware of their interdependence and vulnerability, through their experience of plant closings, layoffs, loss of market share and technological obsolescence. Does the lower level of labour strife mean that parties are biding their time and expecting the good old days to return? Or are we witnessing deeper, more lasting changes in how we determine working conditions and manage human resources? The great majority of researchers and practitioners seem to agree that current economic and labour market transformations are structural rather than merely cyclical in nature.
Despite significant changes in how labour contracts are reached, the adversarial process which characterizes traditional collective bargaining remains predominant. Collective bargaining is still the cornerstone of our system of union-management relations. It has a profound impact on the climate in the workplace, which in turn significantly influences a firm's productivity and competitiveness (Grant and Harvey 1993). Many participatory devices have been introduced in the workplace, but the pace of innovation is much slower at the bargaining table, where distributive tactics still prevail, as manifested in win-lose and we-us approaches on the part of negotiators. However, the idea of mutual-gains bargaining is being examined by an increasing number of people who are preoccupied with the survival and adaptation of collective bargaining.