The holiday season is upon us and fortunately for us, in Australia, we can go and make merry! After lockdowns and working from home, those workplaces that are holding in person Christmas parties should celebrate with gusto.
However, the silly season, especially after the year we have had, can create an environment where employees behave in a way they never would in the office. Even those who are holding festive parties online, need to be aware and take steps to minimise inappropriate behaviour.
It is well known that a key risk factor for sexual harassment is alcohol and events which blur the line between at work and after work. Sexual harassment and bullying do not only occur in person, but they can also occur online, as we at Worklogic have been reminded throughout 2020. For those who are holding online parties it is important to remember that these too can give rise to sexual harassment and bullying.
In order to minimise the risks, employers can make clear expectations around acceptable behaviour. Employees can be reminded of workplace behaviour policies and reminded not to drink too much. Where celebrations are taking place in person, ensure there are non-alcoholic drinks and food. Remind staff that Kris Kringle gifts should not be sexually suggestive or offensive in any way.
Ensuring that sexual harassment and bullying does not rear its ugly head during the festive season, means more than doing the above – it means consistently and constantly improving the workplace culture and promoting respectful behaviour.
This means leadership training to ensure that managers and supervisors not only walk the talk but respond to any complaints and concerns of inappropriate behaviour, and to help them engage in difficult conversations. There should be professional conduct training for all employees to assist them to understand what bullying is and what sexual harassment is to ensure that it does not occur. There should be training in how to become upstanders to ensure that there is a culture where people who behave badly are held accountable.
In addition to training, workplace reviews are an excellent way to assess the culture temperature, and to enable staff to safely discuss concerns and identify if, and what ,steps are needed to make positive cultural change.
2020 has been a tough year and staff are probably extra tired and stressed and trying to meet deadlines before the end of the year- so we need all to be aware of that and remember that appreciation goes a long way.
About Melanie Roberts
Melanie Roberts is an experienced workplace investigator and mediator, with a comprehensive understanding of the complex nature of workplace disputes. Based in Worklogic’s Sydney office, Melanie has extensive experience conducting workplace investigations within the NSW public sector and private enterprise, undertaking a wide range of investigations including allegations of assault, sexual assault, workplace bullying and harassment, sexual harassment, racial and sexual discrimination. She has conducted numerous workplace reviews and is a trained conflict management coach.
Worklogic works with employers to resolve workplace complaints and create a positive culture at work. Please contact Melanie for an obligation-free, confidential discussion on how to manage workplace conflict.
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