A new survey has revealed that Canadian employers are making expensive mistakes when it comes to bullying.
The data is shocking—and suggests that companies are ignoring bullying and harassment in the workplace, resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in severance and legal fees.
Out of 1,800 Canadians polled by the Canadian polling firm, Forum Research, more than 55 per cent said they either have been bullied or know co-workers who have experienced bullying on the job. The survey also found that while one in two employees reported bullying to their employer—only a third of workplaces actually addressed the issue.
Moreover, when employers did take immediate action, the survey found that only two-thirds of workers said the response was effective.
The findings may seem surprising, given today’s social and political climate. But, employment lawyer, Chantel Goldsmith said harassment in the workplace has continued because employers are reluctant to deal with the issue.
“They’re hopeful that things go away on their own, that people give up their pursuit of justice,” Goldsmith said. “They just don’t know how to deal with the situation , so they’re uncomfortable or unsure of how to handle harassment complaints.”
Goldsmith said employers need to be proactive and deliberate about changing their workplace environment to prevent bullying and harassment on the job.
“Have policies and procedures in place to implement them, to train their staff and employees and make sure that they follow through on them,” Goldsmith said. “If a complaint is brought forward, the second step is to ensure that that complaint is investigated and that it’s promptly investigated.”
“The third step is if there is a finding that there has been harassment in the workplace, they need to discipline the employee properly to ensure that the complainant feels comfortable returning back to the workplace.”