A major legislative breakthrough

Bullying is never ok

Nobody wants to be the brunt of office jokes and ridicule but sadly this happens more and more in various situations and different companies. It is never acceptable to ridicule someone based on race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social religion, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language or birth.

Bullying is an uncomfortable and intimidating experience that changes your emotional and psychological DNA forever. Those not strong enough to deal with bullying often succumb to emotional and psychological trauma resulting in physical ailments, stress, and some even suicide.

Speak up and speak out

Speaking up and saying you do not appreciate the behavior is obviously easier for some and harder for others. However, its always good to identify what is happening and weigh your alternatives to dealing with the incident when it happens to you personally , or to stand up for someone else when you see it happening. The cost of bullying is exceptionally high on both the target and the organization and needs to be eradicated quickly, as the longer it prevails, the damage it causes may prove irretrievable.

An ever-increasing number of people can attest to being targeted or singled out, being scolded at, and made to feel like a worthless piece of cloth. Fear of reprisal is one of the biggest reasons a target does not speak out. Most people are afraid of either being victimized, losing their jobs, or simply being given more undue responsibility, in a bid to set them up for failure.

By not speaking up, is like an untreated cancer that silently attacks the body and eventually the target becomes the victim of circumstance. More often than not, the devastation amounts to a diminished emotional, psychological and physical state of being.

A major legislative breakthrough

On the 20th August 2020 the South African government released a Gazette on the draft Code of Good Conduct on the Elimination and Prevention of Violence and Harassment in the world of work that is open for public comment for 60 days post its publication. This is a major step in legislating the elimination and prevention of bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, gender-based violence and the discrimination against LGTB

 What does this mean for you and me? For the employer?

Essentially bullying and harassment will not be condoned, and employers must be compliant to the ratified Code by ensuring that all employees are aware of the measures taken in the workplace to prevent inter alia workplace bullying. Interventions and training programmes must be put in place to assist in the identification of any conduct that would fall within the classification of workplace violence and harassment, this includes:- Early detection systems, training and commitment from senior leadership becomes mandatory. This will contribute immensely to the elimination and prevention of behavior that is deviant to the prescriptions of the Code. The victims of bullying will have protection under the law in that Employers will now be held accountable to ensure protocols are in place to avoid being guilty of codified breaches. Essentially under the new dispensation, Employers are strongly encouraged to adopt a Zero Tolerance Approach to ensure that ethical behavioral standards are in place and good corporate governance is sustained.

Closing Remarks

Covid – 19 is fast changing the world of work and the historic employment rules need to be rescripted to accommodate the new work order. Both employer and employee need to be aware of the ‘rules of the game’ in the new world of work and exercise a transformed mindset that requires agility, flexibility, and adaptability.

Organizations with arrogant leaders that foster a culture of conflict and disharmony are inflexible and averse to change and many of them condone unethical and deviant behavior due to either turning a blind eye, or not being aware thereof when they should have paid attention. The pandemic is now being blamed for the organizational demise when in fact there are many other factors such as culture, archaic leadership and systems, inefficiencies by not utilizing technology effectively and resistance to change.

Organisations that do not embrace the Code run the real risk of undermining its reputation in the market when members of its Board, Executive and employees are named and shamed for dereliction of duty or held vicariously liable for damages caused to victims.