Sep 29 2010

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UWS hosts workplace violence and bullying seminar

from University of Western Sydney

The University of Western Sydney is set to host a public seminar that will shed new light on workplace violence and bullying.

The seminar, ‘Transforming your Organisation from Toxic to Welcoming’ will be held on September 29 at the UWS Bankstown Campus.

Vaughan Bowie, Adjunct Fellow at the UWS Social Justice Social Change Research Group, says workplace violence and bullying is often a key indicator of a broader problem within an organisation.

“Counterproductive behaviour in the workplace does not occur in a vacuum. When violence or bullying occurs, it is often the ‘trickle down effect’ of other organisational problems,” says Mr Bowie.

“Workplace bullying could be an indication that the organisation is being run under an autocratic managerial system. It could also be an indication that staff are feeling threatened by organisational changes, such as down-sizing.

“If staff are feeling disgruntled with their pay, conditions or treatment, they are more likely to react to the situation by dealing inappropriately with their customers or fellow staff.” Mr Bowie, who has examined workplace violence for more than twenty years in places such as Northern Ireland, The Bronx and Soweto, says the instances of workplace bullying have been on the increase in recent years.

“More and more organisations are consistently failing to create environments that are positive for its staff and this may trigger workplace violence,” says Mr Bowie.

“Most recently, there has been the case of WorkCover which, despite being the state government organisation responsible for ensuring that workplaces are safe, secure and productive, it has been alleged is unable to remove the culture of bullying and intimidation from within its own ranks.”

The ‘Transforming your Organisation from Toxic to Welcoming’ seminar will include essential tips for organisations to address the function, culture and setting of their workplaces, which can play a major part in effecting the level of violence that is experienced.

“Key to turning around the culture of bullying in workplaces is adopting the old golden rule, ‘treat others as you would like to be treated yourself’,” says Mr Bowie.

“Managers must lead by example, by treating employees with trust, respect and dignity, and making a concerted effort to reduce job stress and punish unacceptable or counterproductive behaviour.”

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