Workplace bullying continues to surface as an issue that appears in the news – not because it is new but because society has become more aware of it. Companies are also starting to become aware of just what workplace bullying costs them. The costs of workplace bullying may not be directly obvious at first, but companies should consider the following – especially as between 25% and 50% of the workforce have been victims of bullying at some point. Below is a list of the costs to companies of workplace bullying:
1. Loss of productivity. People who are being bullied simply are not responsive in their output, and are distracted by the situation. Additionally, if somebody is bullying or harassing their co-workers, they are generally not working. People may also waste time by trying to avoid the person giving them trouble, such as taking a longer route back from the copier.
2. Loss of time. Bullied employees are prone to call in sick, avoid working overtime and otherwise try to evade the situation. They may well use all of their vacation time. Conversely, if they are afraid for their job, they may come in when they are sick – giving the bug to everyone in the office. “Presenteeism” as it is called may eventuate where worker is not mentally switched on and goes through the motions.
3. Turnover. Any time an employee quits, it costs to train their replacement. A workplace bully has the capacity to drive multiple people out of their jobs – and not just the victim of the bullying. The toxic environment created can also influence peoples decision to leave
4. Reputation. If a company builds a reputation for not looking aftertheir employees well it bears to insignificance if the root cause is a single bully or company policy – customers will look elsewhere. This is particularly relevant for retail outlets and other companies that deal directly with the public.
5. Sick time. In addition to taking sick time just to avoid the bully – victims may actually become sick. Bullying can trigger incapacitating migraines, cause mental health problems, and cause or aggravate high blood pressure. All of this can result in more lost time and higher health insurance premiums. It can even result in workers’ comp claims.
6. Legal issues. Some states, including Pennsylvania, have introduced anti-bullying legislation, which makes employers liable for the action of the bully. Also, 20% of bullying cases involve some form of discrimination – that is, the bully may be targeting a minority, a woman, or somebody who is or perceived to be gay. Most cases are settled, but employers can end up paying a lot of money in compensation and legal costs.
7. Rehabilitation. A bullied employee who does not want to leave may require counseling.
So, what can companies do? It behoves employers to take workplace bullying seriously. Here are some fundamental things employers can employ to prevent or stop workplace bullying:
1. Have a formal and well established process for grievances whether up or down the line. In other words, have a system for addressing performance issues that dissuades supervisors from belittling or raising their voice, and a proper system for grievances against superiors that allows employees to feel they are being heard.
2. Take grievances seriously. Far too often, a supervisor who bullies those under him gets away with it, with higher management (especially if they are not present) arguing that the complaining employees are just “lazy” or “not taking direction.” Pay attention to how many complaints you are getting – if everyone under a supervisor is involved in the complaint it is more likely to be serious than one person. While some people are just saying their boss is too tough, others may actually be telling the truth.
3. Have a policy and prevention plan in place. Educate everyone as to what bullying is and make sure everyone knows that yelling or screaming, personal insults, sexual comments, etc are not acceptable from anyone to anyone.
4. Hold confirmed bullies responsible. Once you have strong evidence somebody is a bully (and consider asking somebody the bully does not know to quietly observe their actions) from interviews or observation, have the person apologize. You can also send a bully for retraining. And, of course, you should always consider terminating a serial bully. No matter how good they are, or appear to be, at their job, if they are ruining everyone else’s work environment, they need to go.
5. Last, but not least, take a hard look at your management style and make sure you are not crossing the line yourself. Pay attention to whether people are comfortable disagreeing with you, your employee turnover rate related to other parts of the organization or other similar organizations, your absentee rate, etc.
Workplace bullying is a problem that does have a solution – but it means you have to take the problem seriously and take a hard line against it – and set a good example yourself.
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A new requirement for the ISO 9001 in 2015 was the introduction of the context of the organization. This clause stipulates organizations must review the external and internal issues dramatically impacting the planning and strategic objectives of the company’s QMS. This change affected clause 4 and caused confusion for some organizations.However, the requirement simply asks organizations to define the influence of different elements on the business, and how these elements impact the QMS and other important elements of the company. It is meant to identify risks and protection opportunities for the organization. Embark on these five steps to ensure your organization is compliant with the ISO 9001:2015 requirements.
1. Look for Existing Compliances
There are some existing compliances amongst organizations because some newly established requirements match the ISO 9001:2008 Quality Manual. Companies who have already followed the ISO 9001:2008 have already defined their scope of quality and QMS according to the new standards through flowcharts or texts. Companies starting with the 2015 version from scratch will need to find the scope of QMS, then identify each process and their specific interactions. The documentation of this process is the output the auditor will need before inspection begins.
2. Identify Issues
Internal and external issues need to be identified and this might be considered to be a general statement. Be careful not to be overly expansive in identification of issues. Focus on the issues that directly affect customer satisfaction and the delivery of the quality in products or services. Specifically, the internal context focuses on the environment of the company. This includes management approach, contract fulfillment, and interaction with investors. Consider ideas related to the business’ values, culture, and environment. The external context issues are revealed through consideration of the company’s ethical, legal, political and economic environment. Some examples of external context include, but are not limited to:
3. Identifying Separate Parties and Needs
Start this process by considering what parties, whether external and internal, have opinions that matter. This includes, but is not limited to:
Identify the needs of these essential groups to help provide additional value within the organization. Ask their opinions to discover ways to improve overall company production.
The most important part of the process is getting the changes on paper. In fact, the standard specifically instructs companies to document changes made to improve the context of the organization. Create a new document to replace the old Quality Manual to be presented before the audit, or simply add to the existing Quality Manual. Adding to the manual is only an option if a manual was created for the 2008 guidelines, however, it is the cheaper, more practical choice. Further, updating interested parties only means highlighting changes, not presenting a full document.
5. Review and Monitor Changes
This last part is one of the most significant parts of the overall change. Organizations may push this aside, but, with practice, it will become habit. Monitoring the external and internal issues and looking for chances for corrections will make any future changes easier on the organization. Two common acronyms for monitoring are SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) and PEST (political, economic, social, and technological). Use these acronyms for monitoring, and you’ll reach beyond the minimum standards toward improved overall processes. Do not make the context of the organization requirement one that is fulfilled for the audit then forgotten. The information gathered for the requirement is often useful, and should be taken seriously. In fact, some organizations will continue to update this requirement simply to gain the helpful information it provides. Further, the organization will be ready for upcoming changes to the ISO 9001.
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Workplace injuries severely impact not only the company that a person works for but the person themselves. A serious workplace injury can complicate the rest of someone’s life. Moreover, not only will that injury impact that person but also their loved ones, family, and friends as well. In some cases, that person may require permanent disability or have limited employment because of their injury. Others may require care for the remainder of their lives.
These injuries not only put a burden on the company that person worked for but also on the person as well as their family. Therefore, investing in workplace safety is considered a highly regarded choice irrespective of costs.
Below are 10 benefits that the company obtains from implementing a rigid workplace safety program and ensuring that it is upheld at all costs:
It Lowers Rates of Absenteeism: The rates of absenteeism plummet when the workplace is safe. People desire safety in their work environment and want to feel like they are cared for. Investing in a safe workplace has potential to substantially improve employee morale
Working Equipment is More Productive:Equipment that is in good order and is safe for employees to use will befar more efficient in delivery and improve bottom line than equipment that is in poor repair. Keeping equipment up-to-date can ensure that employees have the tools they need to do their jobs effectively as possible.
Safe Work Environment Helps Workers Be More Productive:If workers are confident that the machinery, equipment, materials, and supplies they have on hand to do their jobs they will be able to work more quickly. Workers that work quicker will help raise the profitability of the company. Over time, this increased productivity will far outweigh the cost of properly maintaining the machinery and equipment.
A Safe Work Environment Will Produce a Higher Quality Product:An environment in which the machinery and equipment is in good working order will be able to produce a higher quality product no matter what industry you work in. The higher quality product can demand more money which can raise the company’s bottom line.
A Safe Work Environment Limits Employee Insurance Claims:A safe work environment will help limit employee injuries and therefore insurance claims for injuries. The less claims the company has against them the more money they save. Not only will the company avoid paying unnecessary medical bills and workman’s comp they will also avoid increased insurance rates if they are seen as a “risk” by the insurance company.
Incorporating Workers Ideas Helps Them Feel Valued in Safety:Your own workers do their jobs every day and are some of the best assets you have in developing a quality workplace safety program. Reach out to them and incorporate their ideas and inputs into the program. If they feel their voices are heard they are much more likely to care about the rules and safety program than if they feel that rules are just being “forced upon them” by the company.
A Quality Safety Program Makes Customers Notice:Customers sit up and recognize any company that goes the extra mile to take good care of their employees, especially when it comes to their safety and well-being. Going the extra mile to take care of your employees can help you get and retain customers for a long time to come as it creates extra goodwill for the company.
A Good Safety Program Drives Up Profits:Companies with a quality safety program and limited worker injuries helps limit the disruptions in day-to-day operations of people getting hurt or not being able to work because of injury. The more seamlessly the business can run the more profitable it will be.
Protect Your Most Valuable Asset:Protecting your most valuable asset cannot have a price tag of cost vs. profit put on it. The most valuable resource you have is your workers. Remember that without your workers your company is nothing, so protect them and treat them as they are precious as they really are.
It Saves Lives:This is no exaggeration to say that people literally die at work. The Bureau of Better Business Statistics estimates that 50,000 people die from work-related incidences. While not all of thesedeaths are preventable many of them, such as construction accidents, are very preventable. Ensuring you have a safe place to work can indeed literally save lives.
Conclusions: Workplace safety should be the top and central priority of any company looking to be the best at what they do. You can’t put a price tag on anyone’s well-being, health, and life. In the end, taking care of your employees is taking care of your business.
Spending the extra cash on the proper maintenance of the machinery, equipment, materials, and supplies you use to run your every day business will come back to help make your business more profitable.
It will also return every employee home to their family safely at the end of each day because you can’t put a price on someone’s well-being and their life.
For more information on Workplace safety matters and having more effective strategies to reduce likelihood of such issues, please contact Sustainable Certification Pty Ltd