“Brodie’s Law forced us to think more about the impact of workplace bullying and the effect that it can have on employees. There was a human factor that needed to be considered, as well as a financial impact where the company could be fined for allowing workplace bullying to occur.”
Joyfoods Australia Pty Ltd is a family-owned Australian company, established by a passionate team over 13 years ago. The business has grown to be a medium-sized-enterprise, specialising in the manufacture of snack foods and breakfast cereal/muesli products.
Joyfoods delivers a range of health-oriented products to the Australian market via supply to proprietary and private label brands. The business offers flexible manufacturing services to external clients catering for low and high volume product lines. The business prides itself on being responsive to market opportunities and works strategically with trade partners to achieve quality-driven success.
Victoria’s anti-bullying legislation, known as Brodie’s Law, commenced in June 2011 and made serious bullying a crime punishable by up to 10 years in jail. Brodie’s Law was introduced after the suicide of a young woman, Brodie Panlock, who was subjected to relentless bullying in her workplace.
Brodie’s Law forced Joyfoods to think more about the impact of workplace bullying and the effect that it can have on employees. There was a human factor that needed to be considered, as well as a financial impact where the company could be fined for allowing workplace bullying to occur.
In discussions with the Leadership team, it was noted that the production managers were really experienced and efficient in the area of dealing with staff issues. However, issues were arising with new managers who were trying their best but who just didn’t have the experience of the production manager and other middle level managers.
Actions taken to address workplace bullying
Support and training
Joyfoods had to ensure that the Leadership team got the support that they needed to deal with emotional issues of their staff. They sought the help of Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry training services to assist staff in the area of leadership but with a special focus on dealing with and identifying emotional issues of staff and recognising and acting on bullying.
Joyfoods also ran an internal training session to help staff identify bullying behaviour and to reiterate what is expected of them and their managers in order to prevent it. This included training to ensure all managers lead by example with positive behaviours like respectful language, which leads to a respectful culture within the workplace.
Joyfoods also installed security cameras at the work site. These were installed for both food safety and occupational health and safety reasons and have helped immensely in dealing with investigations that have occurred in relation to workplace bullying.
Addressing workplace bullying and ensuring that you have ‘Towards Zero’ approach takes time and determination. Even if the best efforts are placed to train staff, there can always be situations that have to be addressed.
Some staff and managers thought that the training wasn’t for them or disregarded it, believing that it was a waste of their time. When senior management explained that they could be found criminally liable and get a 10 year sentence or a substantial fine, it became much clearer why this was essential for the business.
Joyfood’s leadership team were able to provide a very supportive environment for staff and make tough decisions when needed. The team were communicative and collaborative throughout the training process ensuring that staff were clear around the behavioural expectations of the workplace.
All new and existing staff are advised of Joyfood’s values and the aim to get ‘Towards Zero’.
Benefits and outcomes
Joyfoods now handle complaints and issues in a fast and efficient way. Matters are dealt with quickly and decisively and staff are reassured that the senior management will not tolerate bullying and that the environment is safe for everyone.
Other benefits include:
- Lower incidence of workplace bullying
- Increase in awareness of bullying behaviour with all staff, including management.
- The ability to handle workplace bully complaints fast and efficiently if they arise.
- Respecting all parties involved in the process.
- Clear communication to affected parties.
Recommendations, considerations and lessons learned
- Human Resources staff and managers need to model positive behaviour and instil a respectful culture in the workplace. They need to lead by example.
- The right training and support for staff is vital to increase the awareness of bullying behaviour and to prevent bullying.
- Managers need to learn how to deal with issues promptly and confidentially and be supported by their workplace to do this effectively.
- Managers need to be supported to follow through with disciplinary action and/or training as necessary.
Find out more
Learn more about workplace bullying and how to create a mentally healthy workplace here.