Addendum to canada paper susan j coldwell nsgeu february 2013
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Addendum to Canada Paper: Susan J. Coldwell, NSGEU, February 2013. Working toward Bully-Free Workplaces. Workplace bullying is a risk to employees’ health. Take steps to end it now! NS GEU Working Toward Bully-Free Workplaces . Background.

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Addendum to Canada Paper: Susan J. Coldwell, NSGEU, February 2013

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Addendum to Canada Paper: Susan J. Coldwell, NSGEU, February 2013

Working toward Bully-Free Workplaces

Workplace bullying is a risk to employees’ health.

Take steps to end it now!

NSGEU Working Toward Bully-Free Workplaces

Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU)


  • Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU) Nova Scotia’s largest union

  • Representing approximately 30,000 workers within the province

  • Vision to address workplace bullying, launched 2010

  • Commitment to employers and their employees

  • Began with two hour awareness session or six hour workshop


What Does Civility Look Like?

Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU)

Characteristics of a Bully


Bullying Behaviors

Nova Scotia Government & General Employees Union (NSGEU)

Effects of Bullying


  • Psychological and Emotional

  • Behavioral Changes

  • Physical Symptoms

    Organizational Impact

Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU)

Workplace Bullying

  • Witnesses/Bystanders are part of the change

    • Educate yourself

    • Build a culture of civility

    • Develop and promote your workplace policy to change culture

    • Communicate the policy widely

Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU)

Psychological health and safety in the workplace- prevention, promotion, and guidance to staged implementation - national Standard of Canada January 16, 2013

  • On January 16, 2013 Canada became the first country in the world to outline a voluntary national standard for Canadian workplaces

  • Developed in collaboration with The Canadian Mental Health Association and the Canada Standards Association there is a strong correlation and application in the arena of workplace bullying as a particular form of psychological harassment.

  • A journey of continual improvement …


  • Estimated 51.8 billion in economic costs related to mental health (CMHA 2013)

  • 69% of Long Term Disability Claims related to mental health issues (CMHA 2013)

  • Presenteeism costs 1.5 times more than absenteeism.

  • WCB-BC has expanded coverage for work-related mental disorders

  • 65% NS Human Rights complaints related to the workplace

  • Perception of justice and fairness key reason why people do not return to work after illness or disability, or remain at work (Sullivan 2008) As perceived injustice increases so does bullying

Psychological Safety and Health are demonstrated in the way

  • people regularly interact

  • working conditions and management practices are structured

  • decisions are made and communicated

  • promotion of workers’ psychological well-being

  • prevention of harm to workers’ mental health in negligent, reckless or intentional ways

Workplace influences affecting mental health at work

  • risk factors – work overload, unreasonable work pace, high demand/low control, conflicting tasks, perceived unfairness

  • protective factors: self-efficacy, skill discretion, decision authority, social support, civility and respect.

  • Unique human responses

  • Require strategies to increase protective factors and reduce risk factors

  • Union Role

    • Demonstrate shared concern for worker well-being

    • Create harassment/ bully-free workplaces

    • Help workers navigate through complaint and grievance processes

    • Provide expertise to create accommodations that work

    • Work with employee(s) and management to problem-solve and provide constructive solutions that also repair relationships

    • Provide an ongoing resource

    Importance of workplace culture

    Bullying workplaces

    Respectful workplaces

    Greater trust amongst workers and their employers

    Productivity gains

    Higher levels of commitment to the organization

    greater staff retention

    higher levels of job satisfaction

    Lower levels of stress

    Less conflict between work and family responsibilities

    • Escalation of incivility

    • High staff turnover,

    • Low morale

    • High levels of informal complaint and grievances

    • Inconsistent application of policies and rules

    • Poor performance and reprisal of those who protest

    Importance of a healthy and respectful culture

    • Policies and procedures on their own do not prevent or address bullying. Appropriate leadership that demonstrates skills and confidence in addressing this issue are also required. High level commitment to making positive changes has a big influence on the culture of workplaces.

    • Workplace Bullying, We just want it to stop, house of representatives, standing committee on education and employment , parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, 2012

    Cultural shift

    • Requires common definitions

      • Duty of Care

      • Good faith

      • Frivolous and vexatious

      • Reprisal free

      • Confidentiality (provides clear information while acknowledging the right to privacy, dignity and respect of the individual)


    • Leaders whether managers or workers have significant input into the culture of an organization and can therefore demonstrate to their workers what standard of behaviour is expected.

    • As an aspect of corporate social responsibility this is demonstrated by;

    • The ability to be conscious of and notice incidents of subtle bullying;

    • The ability to speak up constructively in that moment; and

    • employers that take complaints of bullying seriously.


    • Applies to workers who have a designated role in handling reports of bullying should undertake specific training to assist them to carry out their role effectively.

    • Includes, stewards, chief stewards and local presidents

    • Must have leadership from the employer to achieve sustainable culture-shift

    • Strategies and information about bullying at work will better enable bystanders/witnesses to speak out

    Tangible skills




    Conflict resolution

    Problem solving


    Role modeling

    • Policy

    • Key performance indicators

    • Transparency

    • Role clarity

    • Job facts

    Interventions that alonedo not work to prevent bullying

    • Mediation

    • Short term one-off solutions

    • Anti-bullying curriculum

    • Self-esteem for bullies

    • Assertiveness training for targets

    • More punitive discipline

    • Anger management training for bullies

    • Zero tolerance Policies

    Questions that help find solutions

    • What do you need from the workplace to be successful in your job?

      • workplace culture a key determination in whether bullying will occur

    • How do you want future workplace issues to be addressed?

      • policy – defines, solutions based, options from earliest intervention

    • For your contribution towards your success at work, what will you commit to?

      • Self-care/ informal at work/request from employer/agreement…

    Why take a Restorative Approach to Workplace Bullying?

    • Inequality and power disparity are relational

    • Our human rights are relational

    • Approach is more than settling interpersonal conflict, and more than alternative dispute resolution

    • Respect/dignity grounded in understanding others

    • Forward-focused/remedial

    • Offers processes capable of supporting sustainable accommodation

    • Accommodation is a way of relating rather than an outcome or entitlement

    • Works to establish and understanding or perspectives as a prelude to problem solving, conflict resolution and repairing harm

    • Supports right to respect and dignity at work (NSGEU) and promotes

    • Transformation of social relationships

    Perceptions of Justice

    Is it fair?

    • Is conduct honest, respectful and of goodwill

    • Personal interactions/relationships

      between the parties

      Who is responsible?

  • What are the process(es)

  • Who makes the decisions and decides outcomes

  • How and whyaround decision making are explained

    Fairness and justice is made visible/tangible through policy

  • Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU)

    Restorative Approach is a relational approach (NSRJ-CURA)

    • Relationships are central between human beings and the world

    • Relationships are relevant at all levels of human interaction; interpersonally, socially, institutionally and nation to nation

    • Relationships can be positive/harmful or unhealthy/healthy

    • Approach is central; to recognizing, understanding and addressing harmful relationships

    • Restored relationships focus on conditions in relationship that enable social equality

    • Approach is constructive and forward thinking

    • Equality of relationship requires mutual respect, concern/care and dignity


    • Relationship focused

    • Brings together the ‘right’ people – people who need to come together

    • Inclusive

    • Participatory

    • Democratic/deliberative

    • Comprehensive/holistic – not only incident focused but considers the contexts and causes

    • Forward-focused - remedial

    Restorative/Resolution Conferences

    • Goal: to develop understanding of what happened, its affects among the people involved ,and determine what is needed to move forward

    • Facilitate understanding among the participants (those affected)

    • Understanding why what happened matters (what are systemic issues)

    • Understanding is not agreement

    • Identify issues that need further clarification or attention (who might affect the outcome)

    • Reach agreement on what needs to happen to move forward (repair the harm)

    • Also addresses systemic issues, increases perception of fairness

    • Builds capacity to deal with future concerns (NSRJ-CURA)


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