Dignity at Work: Do Your Team Know the Behaviour Boundaries?
Dignity at Work: Do Your Team Know the Behaviour Boundaries?
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Dignity at Work: Do Your Team Know the Behaviour Boundaries?

It’s been quite a time across politics and business, with Dominic Raab having faced two upheld bullying complaints resulting in his resignation, the CBI crumbling under harassment (and worse) complaints, and Tesco’s is in trouble too.

Bullying and harassment are issues which can cause untold harm to the victim, and in a different way to the perpetrator, to say nothing of the serious reputational damage to the employer. It is for this reason that more employers are reaching in the direction of dignity at work training to support their workforce and protect their organisation.

Recently, we have seen an increase in challenges around employee’s understanding of standards of behaviour and where they apply. So, we spent some time taking a deeper dive to provide some clarity. Please feel free to share these scenarios with your team!

When and where we work, and why it’s so important

Employees often assume that when attending a place of work within working hours, this is when (and only when) work standards of behaviour apply. What they often don’t have a good grasp of, is that these standards of behaviour can also apply when their out-of-office is set. A great example of this going wrong for an employer was at the 2019 Manchester derby.

So, let’s take these following scenarios:

  1. It’s Friday and it feels like it’s been a long week. There is a pub across the road from the office. At the end of the working day some staff go to the pub for a drink.
  2. It’s coming up to Christmas, and the Christmas party will take place in the office, after working hours.
  3. Your organisation allows flexible working and many staff work from home for a couple of days. The rest of the week, they work in the office.

It is highly likely that in all three of the above scenarios, work standards of behaviour will apply just as much as when you’re attending the workplace during working hours. Now let’s take a look at two more scenarios:

  1. A member of staff arranges to go shopping with a colleague on a Saturday afternoon.
  2. It is Sunday morning. A member of staff bumps into a colleague who is also out for a walk.

It’s less obvious in these last two scenarios how work standards of behaviour apply. Right?

It is not always clear where the responsibility of the employer and its’ staff stops in relation to appropriate behaviours and dignity at work. Place and time can be deceptive. So as HR professionals, if an issue arises where the boundaries are blurry, start by asking yourself these key questions at the outset:

  • Does the behaviour of those involved adversely affect the reputation of your organisation?
  • Is a risk being posed to health and safety?
  • And finally, consider whether employees are well-equipped enough to understand their expected standards of behaviour and where they apply.

By supporting your team and proactively investing in training, your organisation will be marching towards achieving and maintaining a positive and inclusive workplace culture. We’ve developed some free resources to help you along this rollercoaster journey on our HR resource hub, and in our dignity at work training programmes.

If you’d like to have an informal chat about what a dignity and respect programme might look like for your organisation, drop us a line below.

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