Workplace Bullying – What is it costing you?

Workplace bullying complaints are increasing by the day. Some large organisation are reporting that nearly 50% of all claims are for Bullying and Harassment issues.

Bullying claims are not cheap. When faced with claims organisations have a number of choices, all of which can be costly. The difference between the choices is the outcome of the option chosen and the final cost of the process.

Option 1  – Bullying Investigation

Many organisations feel compelled to investigate claims. Companies that investigate claims charge anywhere from around $10k to substantially more than that. Some Bullying claims can led to expenses in the vicinity of $100k. Despite all this cost, organisations still have two aggrieved people to get back to work.

Take the case of Marie and Laurence, two Senior Managers at a Financial Services Organisation.

Marie had worked for the organisation for more than 20 years. She was a well known industry expert. She was well-respected for her attention to detail and high performing team.

Laurence had worked for the organisation for close to ten years. He was known as a highly intelligent and strategic, top performer. He had aspirations of taking on an Executive position in the organisation within 3 years.

Both Marie and Laurence had no intention of leaving the organisation. The organisation wanted to keep them both. They were nearly impossible to replace in the short term, given their skill and expertise.

Marie and Laurence’s teams worked closely together. They relied on each other for financial reporting information and also serviced the same key accounts.

As the relationship between the teams began to breakdown HR were called in a number of times to assist. No formal complaints were made. HR decided to intervene by meeting with Marie and Laurence on a number of occasions. They seemed to calm down for a bit.

However, an issue with a key client led tempers to flare again a few months later. A meeting was called to resolve the issues between the teams. At the meeting accusations were made and there were reports of loud thumps on the boardroom table, and some people left the meeting in tears.

The next day a Bullying and Harassment Claim was lodged.

An investigation was carried out. 20 people were interviewed.

The investigation resulted in an inconclusive decision. Meanwhile, the teams were more divided than ever before, and Marie and Laurence refused to communicate in any way. This made it very difficult for them, and their teams to carry out their work. Productivity and team performance, dropped and clients began to get suspicious when they received contradictory information from the teams.

HR were at a loss as to how to resolve the issues. They called in a professional workplace mediator.

Individual coaching was provided to Marie and Laurence to prepare them for mediation. The coaching included leadership development activities.

The mediation process lasted two days. Despite a difficult first day. The second day ended with a hug!

This is not a story. It happened.

This dispute cost the organisation over $100k.

Option 2 – Workplace Mediation

Mediation can prevent the escalation of workplace conflict by providing an opportunity for clients to voice their concerns in an open and safe environment.

Take the case of Graham and Lisa, a Senior Manager and Middle Manager, of a Higher Education Institution.

Graham was nearing the end of his career. He had had a successful career in a diversity of roles across a number of sectors, and was proud of it.

Lisa was considerably younger than Graham. She was a highly competent and ambitious manager.

The conflict erupted after Lisa performance managed a member of her staff out of the organisation, in consultation with Graham and Jane, the Director of the Department. Lisa felt unsupported and undermined during this process. She lost faith in Graham and became suspicious of his intentions.

Jane was keen to keep both of them. A number of grievances, and the first sign that a Claim may have been on the horizon, led her to call a professional workplace mediator.

Individual coaching was provided to Graham and Lisa to prepare them for mediation. The coaching included leadership development activities.

After the initial diagnostic session, Graham reported that he and Lisa had met for 5 minutes and that things had begun to resolve.

The mediation process lasted less than a day.

This is not a story. It happened.

This dispute cost the organisation just over $10k.

These cases are not unique. 

Organisations are spending huge amounts of money on workplace conflicts they could have prevented or at least minimised.

What are bullying and other claims costing your organisation?

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