Ep. 28 - Toxic Workplaces: Preventing Bullying with Karen Maher

Is your workplace culture toxic and would you really know?
What makes culture toxic is different for everyone – and as a small business owner, this can be hard to manage.

Karen Maher

Karen provides respected and valuable insight and information through training and coaching sessions to increase compliance, reduce risk & promote safer, happier and more productive workplaces. She places emphasis on the importance of great leadership, being proactive and prevention.

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Karen Maher – Founder Workplace Trainwise
  • Managing director and leading facilitator at Workplace Trainwise
  • Karen focuses on helping workplaces develop safe cultures – specialising in bullying and sexual harassment
  • Workplace bullying and sexual harassment statistics are NOT going down in Australia – highlighting the importance of this work
  • Employees bear no legal responsibility for acting to prevent workplace bullying

Tackling Workplace Bullying and Harassment
  • Can occur in employee-employee or employee-employer relationships
  • For small businesses, employers be clear about values and expectations
  • Ensure processes exist such that if someone feels uncomfortable, they have appropriate avenues to communicate this – these processes MUST be known by staff
  • Consider broaching workplace culture proactively – continuous communication between management and staff can help ensure everyone feels safe in the workplace
  • There are costly outcomes of workplace bullying and harassment for the firm (including low morale, absenteeism, lower productivity rates and more), and mental health impacts for staff
  • Employee suicide is not uncommon in Australia and the worst-case scenario of workplace bullying/harassment cases
  • Workplaces often look to consultants like XXXX to either become closer to best practice or improving extremely toxic workplace cultures
  • Proactive approaches to prevention help avoid toxicity becoming engrained in the culture – at which point, it can be very hard to change
  • The onus of designing systems to report and manage workplace bullying is ultimately the responsibility of managers and employers. Investing in these channels can help create a positive workplace culture and protect staff. 

Inter-Office Relationships – Are They Ever A Good Idea?
  • Different firms have different views about dating colleagues and/or clients
  • Navigating these safely requires both mutual consent and respect from both parties, and strict following of any workplace procedures (e.g. reporting relationships to HR)
  • Inter-office relationships are not inherently problematic but do become complex when they end on bad terms, and when staff are of different seniority levels.
  • Involved parties must take care they understand the potential ramifications of these relationships and ensure to act appropriately.

Top Tips For Creating A Safe Workplace Culture
  1. Proactively define the workplace culture and communicate what is and is not considered bullying
  2. Before starting an employment relationship, ensure good value alignment between the organisation and employee. For example,
  3. Ensure senior staff are supportive of bullying prevention methods – without their support and engagement, cultural changes can’t infiltrate lower levels
  4. Remember that creating a fun and supportive workplace fuels motivation and productivity – creating a win-win for ALL parties

For more about Karen Maher and Workplace Trainwise, check out www.workplacetrainwise.com.au


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