The policy revision was used as an opportunity for joint work between Management and Unions to develop a policy which could be used as a basis for positive change in our workplaces. The new policy has a much greater emphasis on improving our workplace culture and provides a new and more appropriate avenue for staff to raise concerns about disrespectful behaviour and then to have these concerns addressed quickly at a local level.
Everyone has a role to play to ensure we have workplaces where we treat each other with dignity and respect. You should use the launch of this new policy to speak with your colleagues and line manager about the way you work together; to discuss whether people are clear about what is acceptable or not acceptable, including the way you speak to each other, and how you deal with issues. If you have encountered disrespectful behaviour from a colleague, use the new policy to have the confidence to speak up and give feedback.
You can build this into your PDP discussion with your Line Manager and get support for this. There are resources available on Staffnet, FTFT online under ‘Our culture’, in particular Hints and Tips for Giving Feedback. You could discuss with a Learning & Education Advisor or an Organisational Development Advisor to see what development options may be available to you. You can also contact the free and confidential Employee Counselling Service if you need advice about tackling a difficult issue that you are experiencing.
Disrespectful behaviour is defined in the Dignity at Work policy as “Rude or discourteous behaviour that causes the receiver to feel belittled or insulted or to have their reputation damaged. If left unchecked it creates an uncomfortable or even hostile work environment and could develop into bullying and harassment. Examples include use of demeaning or offensive language, shouting, openly disregarding other’s views, frequent interrupting, being deceptive or manipulative, gossiping behind another’s back (including online), being disruptive or not making a full contribution in the workplace to the detriment of colleagues”.
Disrespectful behaviour refers to rude or discourteous behaviour that occurs more randomly where the target is not specifically sought out to be the focus of repeated behaviour. Disrespectful behaviour can even be unintentional, hence the reason that it’s better handled one to one between yourselves or locally by your Line Manager.
Bullying is deliberate and repeated targeting of an individual over a period of time.
Harassment is defined legally as unwanted conduct related to a protected characteristic, for example a persons sex, race or sexual orientation, and may either be persistent or an isolated incident.
Allegations of bullying or harassment should be taken directly to your Line Manager (if the issue involves your Line Manager then their Manager should be approached). Such allegations are viewed extremely seriously and will be thoroughly investigated, potentially leading to disciplinary action against the individual(s) involved.
If you have taken the step to discuss the issue one to one with the colleague and the situation remains unsatisfactory or becomes worse, then you must discuss the issue with your Line Manager (or the next-in-line manager if the issue involves your immediate Line Manager). The Dignity at Work policy formalises a manager’s obligation to listen, discuss and explore the nature of such an issue with you and the need to take steps to resolve it.
If you experience any negative repercussions for raising the issue, this may be deemed to be victimisation. This is defined in the policy as detriment suffered by a member of staff as a result of issues or allegations they have raised in good faith, or because they have participated in an associated process, for example as a witness. This is viewed extremely seriously, leading to disciplinary action against the individual if there is evidence of this.
Mediation is where an impartial third party, the mediator, helps two or more people in dispute to attempt to reach an agreement. Any agreement comes from those in dispute, not from the mediator. The mediator is not there to judge, to say one person is right and the other wrong, or to tell those involved in the mediation what they should do. The mediator is in charge of the process of seeking to resolve the problem but not in charge of the outcome. In this regard Mediation can be an extremely helpful process, but it is not the first resort. You should always try to first resolve difficulties with a colleague on a one to one basis or by allowing your manager to attempt resolution. If this fails then your Line Manager can arrange for mediation via your local HR Advisor.