All workplaces are vulnerable to bullying.
“I’ve seen it in the public sector, I’ve seen it in the safety sector even,” said Genelle Payant. “I’ve seen it in large companies that have hundreds of employees and I’ve seen it in companies that have less than 20.”
Payant has more than 15 years of experience in the human resources field and is the founder and president of Spark People Solutions.
She’ll be speaking at a bullying in the workplace seminar at the mess social centre at 15 Wing the morning of Oct. 23. Registration deadline is Oct. 17 to hear Payant share what she knows about the growing and important issue for all Saskatchewan businesses.
She said litigations in America have increased focus on workplace bullying, but Canada hasn’t been immune from large legal cases either.
“When those kinds of things happen, when there’s big money being spent for improper treatment of workers, people start to pay attention,” Payant said.
Bullying isn’t reserved for kids on the playground; it can seep into workplaces and do serious damage to individuals and businesses.
“Everyone wants to go to work feeling that they have a safe and secure place to do their work,” Payant said. “If there are processes or individuals in place that are not making that happen, then employers have a responsibility legally to get involved.”
The workshop at 15 Wing is one of four events Payant will be speaking at in the next six weeks. She draws on her experiences to try and help others with some tips and tricks to resolve human resources issues.
“Bullying can take on lots of different forms,” Payant said.
Sometimes workplace bullying is obvious to everyone. Other times it can be very subtle and directly between two people.
Payant said even passive-aggressive behaviour can qualify as workplace bullying if it regularly inhibits someone’s ability to do his or her job.
She said workplace bullying is a “fine line,” and that makes it a very real concern for bosses.
“I’ve gotten questions from employers: ‘what if I have to give a negative performance review to somebody? Does that mean that I’m bullying them?’ Well, no, it doesn’t, as long as the performance appraisal is done in a professional, substantiated way,” Payant said.
In an example like that, the critiques have to be restricted solely to work behaviour and couldn’t personally attack an employee.
Payant said the main criterion used to identify bullying is the frequency with which it occurs.
“A lot of what would constitute bullying, if you were going to put it through a test, would be the things that are on a repeated occurrence,” Payant said.
Payant is willing to answer all the questions she can at the Oct. 23 presentation. All attendees must register at www.sahrp.ca.
Austin M. Davis can be reached at 306-691-1258 or follow him on Twitter @theAustinX.