The Positive and Productive Workplaces Guideline is designed to help public sector agencies, leaders and employees prevent, identify and respond to workplace bullying.
It focuses on prevention and early intervention, and is based on evidence that bullying is less likely to occur in organisations that have:

  • a positive, respectful and productive workplace culture
  • strategies for an immediate response to behaviours that are likely to escalate into bullying.

If it is not addressed, bullying becomes a clear indicator of the standard of behaviours that an organisation's leaders and employees will accept.
Leaders and managers are primarily responsible for creating a positive organisational culture, monitoring the workplace climate and promptly addressing poor behaviour.

Preventing workplace bullying

Positive, inclusive and constructive workplaces display four important characteristics. The following summarises these, along with some steps leaders can take to prevent workplace bullying.

Well-established organisational values and a code of conduct

Leaders need to:

A clear understanding of expected behaviours

Leaders need to:

  • understand how power can play a significant role in relationships
  • be aware of the magnified impact of their own behaviours.

Processes for responding promptly to one-off instances of poor behaviour

Leaders need to:

  • support a ‘speak up culture’ where employees feel safe to provide low key, informal feedback about behaviour they find to be unreasonable or unacceptable
  • encourage employees to raise concerns about the workplace at an early stage, in the knowledge that their concerns will be taken seriously and acted on appropriately
  • facilitate a culture of listening, where employees seek out views that are different to their own, ask for feedback on the way they interact, and listen openly to feedback.

A commitment to using data to understand sound workforce management systems

Leaders need to:

  • be aware of the measures covered in the People Matter Employee Survey
  • understand the link between poor workforce management and the incidence of bullying
  • report survey results and engage employees in developing strategies for improvement

Responding to workplace bullying

As a senior executive, your priority should be to take prompt and effective action to rectify any issues as soon as you are aware of them. Inaction is not an acceptable option.
Your agency is likely to have policies and procedures in place for handling different types of complaints or allegations. You should refer to these in determining how to respond.