Bullying in the Public Service

Our expert panel of Steph Dyhrberg, Nicholas Pole and Debbie Francis provided a very lively and insightful discussion on bullying in the workplace and across our society.

We heard from the panel that bullying is endemic in our schools (New Zealand has the highest rate of school bullying in the OECD!). This flows through to bullying being a serious problem in our workplaces too. And while many executive teams feel that they have “nailed it,” staff generally disagree.

So what can we do to address bullying?

  • Leadership is the key to everything: modelling, setting expectations and setting the culture
  • The more it is talked about, where everyone in the organisation takes responsibility for calling out bullying, the better it is
  • Policies may be in place but organisations have to lay out explicitly and often what positive behaviours are like
  • People need accessible channels for reporting bullying — HR departments are not enough as they may be regarded as protecting senior managers

Debbie Francis summed it up well with a slide showing “Six things I’ve seen work” to stop workplace bullying.