Training in Preventing Bullying – Shout it from the rooftops

Training in Preventing Bullying – Shout it from the rooftops

Posted by Amanda Furness


We recently highlighted in an article on The Stigma of Mental Health that a positive approach to awareness training at work can contribute towards making stigma a thing of the past.

Strangely, stigma of a different kind exists when you look at training for preventing bullying in the workplace. Although it is widely recognised that bullying and harassment can exist in any workplace, when training is offered it is the organisation who can experience stigma. If a company is mentioned in the same sentence as the word “bullying”, it tends to be suspected by others that the ‘need for training’ has arisen out of a staff survey or, worse, a complaint, or that there’s a danger of a climate of bullying in parts of the organisation.

So it is almost as if it is assumed that if an organisation offers preventing bullying in the workplace training they are doing so for reactive rather than proactive reasons. However, in the majority of organisations where we work, training in bullying & harassment is seen as a positive measure. Staff feel that management is working for their best interests rather than putting in some sort of remedial action, and it is thus rolled out positively, rather than focused on a ‘trouble spot’.

It should be remembered that, apart from good management practice, organisations are expected by the courts to take “all reasonable steps to prevent bullying”, and that includes awareness training and regular review of policies and procedures. In the event of a legal claim, failure to do this will adversely affect the case for the organisation.

In a recent managers’ ‘Bullying in the Workplace’ training session, raising awareness was welcomed by delegates and the following comments illustrate the benefit such training can bring:

  • “When I came onto the course I was 100% certain I was not a bully but now looking at things differently, sometimes possibly I am.”
  • “I can look back on past situations and see that I could have been seen as bullying or harassing and can now reflect and improve myself.”

Although organisations can be found vicariously liable for the ‘wrongdoings’ of their staff in the course of their work, managers also become aware that they can also be personally liable in the event of a claim. This often makes managers see the benefit of such training.

It is our opinion that organisations should be proud to put their name to this kind of training and see that such employee care makes them more attractive as ‘a good place to work’, regardless of their area of business or whether they belong to the public or private sector.