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New Zealand businesses vulnerable around workplace bullying

Thursday, Nov 3, 2016, by Sheryl Blythen

Almost half of New Zealand workplaces don’t have a policy in place to deal with workplace bullying and harassment, a recent survey shows. The latest New Zealand Diversity Survey revealed that only 56 per cent of Kiwi businesses have formalised the process for handling complaints around bullying and harassment. Another 20 per cent have some sort of initiative in place to address this serious issue but, frighteningly, almost a quarter of organisations surveyed (24%) indicated they had no framework set up to deal with workplace bullying. The survey, which was initiated in 2013 to create a better understanding of the key diversity challenges facing New Zealand organisations, is carried out twice a year by Diversity Works New Zealand in partnership with the New Zealand Chambers of Commerce. Diversity Works NZ Chief Executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie says conflict at work is inevitable but if it escalates into bullying, harassment or violence, it can have serious impacts. “Apart from the personal cost for individuals, it also comes with a huge cost for the business because the fall-out is higher stress levels and lower productivity, and higher absenteeism and turnover.” Cassidy-Mackenzie says all organisations, even small businesses, have a responsibility to put policies in place to protect managers and staff. “There are plenty of resources available to help organisations get started – Diversity Works New Zealand offers workshops on this issue and has a bullying and harassment policy template that’s free for members to access.” Organisations are relying less on HR policies, in general, to address diversity issues, the survey showed. The number of organisations considering diversity issues in relevant policies dropped from just over half in October 2015 (51%) to 36 per cent in the October 2016 survey. See our Top Tips for Beating Bullying in the Workplace or get more information on this issue at www.worksafe.govt.nz See the full New Zealand Diversity Survey October 2016 report.

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