Concerns With Fellow Employees At Work
Violence at Work
By: Abigail Taylor – Updated: 12 Jun 2019 | *Discuss
The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) define work-related violence as 'any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work.' This includes verbal abuse and threats, as well as any form of physical abuse.
Those most at risk are employees who work with members of the public. However it is important to remember that violence can also be perpetrated by fellow employees.
Duties of employers
Employers have a responsibility to their employees to make sure that they are reasonable safe at work.
Often when considering this duty, employers consider the need for work premises and any machinery to be safe. Whilst these are important considerations, employers must also consider the risk posed by other people employees will meet during the course of their employment.
Higher risk jobs (e.g. workers in care homes for adults suffering from mental illness) would be expected to have specifically assessed this risk and have specific policies and procedures in place to try to reduce the risk of and prevent violent incidents occurring. All employees should be trained on these procedures. If you have concerns, speak to your employer.
It is important that these procedures are reviewed regularly. Any accidents or near misses should be reported to your employer so that they can review whether any amendments are needed.
First steps following an incident
- If an incident occurs, promptly report it to your manager.
If they don't investigate the incident, make sure that you make notes of what happened, write down the names of any witnesses, and take photos of the area and any injuries
- If you wish to pursue the matter as a criminal offence, ask your employer to report it to the police.
If they don't do so, you can call the police yourself. (For non-emergency calls, contact the police on 101.)
- If you have concerns about the incident being repeated, discuss ways to prevent this with your manager
If any violence (from a member of the public, customer or colleague) is committed against you, consider whether it is a criminal offence. Forms of violence which constitute a criminal offence may include:
- Use of racially abusive language
- Threats to kill
- Physical violence (e.g. punching / kicking, especially if injury is caused)
You may want to consider a civil action against your employer in the form of an employment law claim or an injury claim:
1. Employment law claim
If an employer fails to prevent violence at work, and you have to leave your job as a result, this could constitute a breach of contract and may result in a constructive dismissal claim.
For example: Your employer knows that a fellow employee regularly threatens you and does not take action to prevent the abuse. You are unable to work in those conditions and quit your job.
This could be constructive dismissal and you could be entitled to compensation.
Seek advice from an employment law specialist or your local Citizens Advice Bureau if you are considering making an employment claim.
2. Injury claim
If you are injured as a result of violence at work, you may be able to make an injury claim against your employer. Injuries may be physical (e.g. bruising / broken nose) or mental (e.g. a diagnosed psychological condition such as anxiety or PTSD).
Your employer is responsible for ensuring your reasonable safety at work.
If they have not taken appropriate action to do so, they may be found to have acted negligently and so be responsible for your injury. Employers are responsible for the actions of other employees, even if criminal.
Therefore if, for example, another employee assaults you at work, your employer will be liable to compensate you for any injury suffered as a result.
If you are considering this route, speak to an injury law specialist or contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
Work-place violence: Everybody's problem
As you will see from the above, violence at work is a serious issue for employers. Not only can work-place violence lead to injured employees requiring time off work, but employers may end up with civil claims against them.
Employees can be assured that the law is very much on their side in terms of ensuring their safety at work, which extends to protection from violence. If you have any concerns, speak to your employer and hopefully you can work together to prevent any incidents occurring.
However if any incident does occur and you are not happy with your employer's response to it, remember that you have several legal options open to you in order to resolve the situation.
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13 Ways To Improve Communication At Work
Consider good communication to be the secret ingredient in a successful, performing team.
Communication plays a crucial role in building authentic relationships, generating ideas, and helping a team overcome challenges and face difficult conversations.
In this post, we share 13 actionable tips for you to improve the quality and quantity of communication on your team, starting today. But knowing that each employee is different, and that no team is the same, you might want to take a deeper dive into understanding your own team’s communication dynamic.
- Create A Communication-Friendly Space
- Keep Communication Constant
- Offer A Platform For Anonymous Feedback
- Hold Weekly Town Hall Meetings
- Ask For Your Employee’s Feedback
- Communicate Face To Face
- Master Your Body Language
- Don’t Over-Communicate
- Take Time To Listen
- Personalize Your Communications
- Be Authentic
- Incorporate Team Building Games
- Try The One Up, One Down Exercise
1. Create A Communication-Friendly Space
It’s your role as a manager to make sure that there is always a clear and constant flow of communication on your team. Speaking up about feelings or sharing ideas and initiatives should never be taboo. You need to encourage your team to express themselves by creating a communication-friendly environment.
Tips to create a communication-friendly office
- Set the example: Always be communicating. Say good morning to your team to raise spirits and get the conversation flowing from the moment the day begins. Ask questions, challenge ideas, communicate your feelings, etc.
- Encourage social interactions: Prompt and inspire employees to eat away from their desks during lunch hour so they have a chance to communicate with one another and build relationships with their colleagues.
- Keep your door open: If you claim to have an open-door policy, really, keep it open as often as possible. On a less literal level, the proverbial open-door policy can be imparted by just reminding your employees often that you’re there for them to talk whenever they need.
2. Keep Communication Constant
Instead of relying on annual reviews to communicate with your employees, schedule monthly one-on-ones so that you can keep up to date on where your employees are at, how they are feeling, and what they might need from you to best contribute to the team.
Schedule one hour every month to chat. You’d be surprised how much your employees have to say that they might not bring up if you didn’t initiate these slotted talking times.
3. Offer A Platform For Anonymous Feedback
This concept of anonymity in communication is crucial to consider in all work environments. Often, employees won’t share feedback with their managers because they are hesitant about making a complaint, or sharing their feelings openly. While we’re all for transparency and vulnerability, the anonymous feature facilitates the process of sharing feelings.
Having a tool Officevibe allows you to keep track of important issues in real-time, know how your team is feeling with honest feedback and enables you to solve problems before they become too big.
4. Hold Weekly Town Hall Meetings
In addition to monthly one-on-one meetings, it’s important to schedule the same sort of initiative but for the whole team, in an open forum.
At Officevibe we hold a Town Hall meeting once a week, where employees can ask questions and share concerns, and managers can fill employees in on new projects coming up, OKRs and goals.
Including everyone in these sorts of conversations is a great way to keep your team engaged.They’ll feel a greater sense of belonging and feel part of something bigger, which will reflect in their performance.
Some employees may feel shy speaking up in a public forum, so try passing around some post-it notes and pens for people to send in their questions anonymously.
5. Ask For Your Employee’s Feedback
Communication should never be solely top-down, or only one way. Regardless of the means through which you are communicating, always solicit your employees to share their thoughts, offer feedback, and get involved in a discussion.
For example, in a review, ask your employees to communicate their feedback on your performance as a manager:
I’d love to know how you think I have been doing as your manager. Do you have any tips, suggestions or feedback you can share with me? I hope to improve as well, so your insight would be really appreciated
Or, if you are sending a company-wide email with some big news, at the end of the message, encourage everyone to communicate their thoughts.
After sharing this news, I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this big change. If you have any questions, concerns or insights, feel free to pass by my office anytime. I’d be happy to talk and hear your thoughts.
Our biggest breakthrough with our software was finding a way to allow managers to respond to the feedback that their employees send in, ensuring that communication is always a conversation, not just a one-way street or a dead end.
6. Communicate Face To Face
Using tools Slack and email are often the most efficient, however, it’s important to remember that face to face communication has a great amount of value in terms of sincerity and authenticity.
Part of communication is human interaction, so as much as you possibly can without disrupting workflow, try speaking instead of typing. It will resonate more.
7. Master Your Body Language
Non-verbal communication is also important for leaders to consider. Your body language has a huge impact on the people around you.
Try to communicate with a positive physical presence and ensure that your body language is open and approachable.
- Keep your arms uncrossed.
- Maintain an upright posture.
- Maintain eye contact.
- Put your devices away.
8. Don’t Over-Communicate
Ideally, there’s no such thing as too much communication, but too much of anything isn’t good.
After work hours, keep the number of emails you send to employees to a minimum. While your communication is ly very important, it can also most probably wait until the following day.
In a perfect world, people know to power down after work hours and stop checking their emails, but the truth is that most of us are so connected to our jobs and our devices that not checking seems unnatural.
If you promote a healthy work-life balance, help them make that possible.
9. Take Time To Listen
Listening to employees allows them to have more space to give honest and transparent feedback.
In this article by Forbes, they recommend empathetic listening:
Try to feel excited when the person you’re listening to is excited, or concern when the other person is concerned. Reflect the other person’s emotions not only verbally, but also with your facial expressions.
Tips to help you listen better:
- Be comfortable with silence
- Be present
- Take the time to repeat
Try to remain a little more silent when you’re talking with someone. These gaps give people time to reflect and think about what else they have in mind. You never know, they may end up sharing something they wouldn’t have.
It may seem obvious, but listening is also completely focusing on the interaction you have with the person. Try to not look at your phone or any other distractions.
Try to repeat what the other person said. Not only will they feel you were truly listening, but it also makes sure that you are both on the same page, and that there are no misunderstandings.
10. Personalize Your Communications
Knowing your audience means changing the way you communicate to fit the personality of the person you’re talking to. It goes deeper than just the way you express yourself. It’s also the way you listen, how you empathize, and how you can understand how they think. It’s also how you can build common ground and a real connection in your conversations.
Tips to your communication with your audience
- Have visuals
- Give room for some improvisation
- Have an example
Having visuals will always help your audience to understand what you’re saying. It also allows you to have a much clearer communication.
Try to ask questions to your audience that will make them think, and adjust your communication according to their answers. While you still know what you will talk about, give some room to improvisation to be able to adjust your conversation and make it a little more natural.
It’s definitely not easy to improve, but try to find someone in your entourage who you think embodies one of these aspects. It’s also something you need to practice continuously.
11. Be Authentic
This one goes without saying, but still, so many conversations and communications can sometimes feel rehearsed. In a great talk given by Sheryl Sandberg called The Importance Of Authentic Communication, she explains that to have more authentic conversations at work, it starts with the mindset.
She explains that in a conversation, you shouldn’t assume that what you are saying is the ultimate truth, don’t try to always convince the other person.
Simply say what you think, and allow the other to do the same. By not having a preconception or a belief, you allow the other person to express themselves freely.
“There is your truth, there is my truth, and everything is subjective.” – Sheryl Sandberg
12. Incorporate Team Building Games
Team building activities and icebreaker games are always good ways to encourage communication in a team.
Not only do the team members get to know each other beyond the context of work (don’t talk about work-related stuff), they also have fun and get to break the ice ;).One activity that we really is sharing something completely unexpected about ourselves with the rest of the team.
Write it down on a piece of paper, throw it into a hat and everyone will try guess to whom the post-it belongs. We’ve learned some pretty interesting things about our colleagues!
13. Try The One Up, One Down Exercise
At the end of our meetings, we started using the “One Up
The benefits of creating good relationships at work
In this world where the “me-first” attitude is most prevalent and the self-made millionaire is commended, team work is rather seen as a roadblock to one’s own success.
It is no longer surprising to see workers keeping secrets from one another, refusing to help others, and even undermining their coworkers just to get ahead.
Little do they know that even the most successful people in the corporate world would’ve never done it without the help of their associates.
Whether it’s just a small office, a major corporation, or a nonprofit organization, fostering healthy relationships is and will always remain to be one of the keys to growth and future innovations. This article lists the benefits of creating powerful relationships at work.
Trust is perhaps the very core of every type of relationship, whether it is personal or professional. It is what compels an employee to do what he says. And when he commits to doing something, his fellow workers listen and watch closely. Trust motivates employees to communicate openly among themselves for constructive criticisms and words of encouragement.
A close-knit work environment cultivates trust from top to bottom; it provides workers with a constant reassurance that others won’t even attempt personal gain at their expense.
They are confident that their fellow workers will never take advantage of their vulnerabilities and will never be envious of their strengths.
They are certain that they never have to watch their back when working with one another.
Increases Work Efficiency
Each member worker has his own niche. By collaborating and working with other members of the team, an employee can work on what he does best and relegate the other duties to those who specialize in it.
While it might take some time for a team to find a good rhythm, a working relationship, wherein every person knows his role and fortes, can make everyday tasks more efficient, optimizing the entire process of delivering services or goods to its clients.
Reinforces Commitment to Excellence
Apart from the salary, another factor that can improve the provision of service is the great relationship that each member has with with his fellow workers.
Harmonious relationships within the workplace can help improve the delivery of service since the employees are dedicated to help one another. Service is not delayed, which otherwise happens when a worker avoids or refuses to work with another.
At the same time, powerful work relationships can result to employees sharing one common noble goal: to improve and maintain the company’s reputation by providing the best services possible.
Paves the Way for Innovations within the Workplace
As the saying goes, “two heads are better than one.” Innovative ideas do not come from only one person. It usually stems from the suggestions of all members within a group. This can only happen if the collective enjoys a great relationship in the workplace.
When team members enjoy good camaraderie among themselves, they can brainstorm for great ideas that can further improve the processes within the management. With each member dedicated to help each other out, a harmonious group can pave the way for innovations that can make life in the workplace better and easier.
One of the main causes of stress is a rift between co-workers. Because of the bad blood between each other, an employee usually takes in more duties or tries to do everything by himself, because he cannot or will not share his work with his fellow worker.
The stress brought about by this kind of setup can take a toll on a worker’s productivity and mental and physical health. Not only will this lead to more costs, this can also affect the workplace negatively because it will be shorthanded.
As a result, the services provided will be delayed, if not halted completely.
Powerful relationships in the workplace encourage each and every worker to work hand-in-hand and carry each other’s burdens, effectively reducing stress among them and helping them enjoy optimal health.Helps the Management Focus on the Bigger Picture
An enterprise can’t have success if its leaders are forced to spend time sorting out trivial administrative or operational issues. Building powerful work relationships helps create a formidable work group who can be responsible for handling these matters, which ultimately enables the manager to direct the overall trajectory of the group without getting lost in the details.
Boosts an Employee’s Morale
Among the culprits behind absenteeism, tardiness, or the lack of motivation to work is when a worker feels inadequate about himself or uncertain of his worth. Unfortunately, this can affect the team’s over-all performance and ability to deliver satisfactory service.
When employees are working well together, their happiness and contentment toward their job are always there. They pat each other’s back when a job is very well done and build each other up when improvement is called for. They are responsible for building each other’s esteem.
Good work relationships serve as a driving force for every worker to do the best he can to excel in his position. This can also reduce employee turnovers.
Even though cooperation helps workers focus on their core competencies, it can also become broadly instructive. In collaborating with his fellow team members, an employee eventually gains insight into what they do, and acquires a broader understanding of the system he is a part of.
Helps You Climb up the Career Ladder
Most executives are looking for managers or supervisors who exemplify good teamwork and camaraderie. If you possess this attitude, then you will most ly be promoted. If you want to blossom in your career, you need to be a team player. After all, this attitude will come in handy once you are given the chance to manage or supervise your employees.
The success of every business is not just brought about by the hard work of the people manning it, nor how sophisticated the tools are. The harmonious relationship employees share among themselves is what ultimately propels every business to the pinnacle.
TK is a blogger who blogs offers career and personal finance advice at FinanceandCareer.com.
What you can and can’t do when employees discuss wages
Can your employees discuss their salaries or wages with their co-workers? Yes. Even if you have a company policy against it? Yes.
In fact, having a policy against it could get you in hot water with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) because such policies generally violate federal labor law.
The National Labor Relations Act protects employees’ rights to discuss conditions of employment, such as safety and pay even if you’re a non-union employer. The NLRB calls these discussions “protected concerted activity” and defines them as when employees “take action for their mutual aid or protection regarding terms and conditions of employment.”
For example, the NLRB issued a complaint against a diaper supply company in St. Louis that fired a worker after she discussed wages with another employee. The employer had a handbook policy against discussing wages, but it was found to be unlawful by the NLRB. As a result, the employee was given back pay and offered reinstatement, and the employer changed its handbook.
This case illustrates a common misconception — that employers can forbid employees from discussing their salaries.
Repercussions from these kinds of conversations can ripple throughout the entire company. The more you know about what you can and can’t do, the better you can protect yourself and your company.
What employers can’t do
You cannot forbid employees – either verbally or in written policy – from discussing salaries or other job conditions among themselves.
Discussing salaries is protected regardless of whether employees are talking to each other in person or through social media.
What employers can do
Of course, discussing salaries can be problematic. Conversations can evoke feelings of jealousy and inequity among co-workers who most ly are unaware of the reasons for salary differences, including education, experience and training. Suspicion, distrust and other negative emotions often result from salary discussions and seriously affect company morale.
The best way to head off those problems is to foster a positive working relationship with your employees. Consider instituting strategies these:
- Pay people fairly in the first place: Review your own records and make sure your salaries are competitive in the marketplace.
- Encourage a workplace where employees are comfortable approaching management or HR personnel with questions or observations about salaries or working conditions.
- Help employees understand their salary ranges and job potential, and inform them how additional skills, training or certifications could possibly affect their growth within your company.
- Provide resources and training for management so they are aware of labor rulings and know how to respond to employees’ questions and requests.
- Put together a complaint resolution procedure for your company that allows employees to be heard.
- Conduct internal surveys that monitor your company’s general climate, employee engagement and compensation perceptions.
Have a compensation strategy
To help give a framework to your employee compensation, your company should detail how pay decisions are made. Having a system of checks and balances can help keep wages in line with your company policies, job descriptions and industry standards.
If you discover there are employees with salary rates disproportionate with your policy or the market, it could be seen by employees as unfair.
Sometimes positions have a significant strategic importance and the pay rate can be defended as acceptable. However, these inconsistencies should be documented as part of a pay structure analysis.
It’s easier to defend a claim of unequal pay if you have objective criteria for how you base your pay decisions.
You may want to hire a third-party vendor to conduct a salary survey, which analyzes data a job description, experience, education and geography. It will give you similar jobs in the market and the pay scale – a place to start when determining what you’ll pay your employees. Repeat the salary surveys periodically to check that your wages are still in line with industry standards.
When determining compensation, there are a number of variables to consider. It can be many things:
Pay equity is a hot topic and is driving some companies to be more transparent in their compensation, from posting pay ranges (minimum to maximum) to indicating pay grades (without discussing exact figures) for jobs. Being transparent can help remove mystery regarding wage decisions and improve employee trust in management and morale.
Guidance for hiring managers
Once you determine how and what you’re going to pay employees for specific work, that information should be documented and used by hiring managers.
While you want to empower them to weigh in on salary decisions, those decisions can’t be made in a bubble. There should be a layer of approval.If the salary will deviate from your policy, document the reasons for the exception, and have someone up the chain review and sign off on it.
Some states and cities across the country have laws in place that prohibit asking a job candidate about salary history. The thought is that your company should pay workers your formal compensation strategy, not their pay history. By relying on your company’s pay rates as the guide, it creates a more equitable pay structure.
How your HR staff can help
When an employee brings up the question of pay, consider bringing in your HR staff, which should be equipped to ask more questions and find out what an employee’s actual concerns are. It could be something other than just a matter of pay rate.
It could be a personal problem: For example, an employee’s spouse has lost a job and they’re in a bind and need more money.
It could be a matter of an employee hearing that others are getting paid more, and the issue of gender inequality could enter the discussion.
Having human resources involved sends a message to the employee that their concerns are taken seriously, and takes into consideration that additional employee assistance and support may be needed.
If you’re most companies, your employees are the backbone of your organization. Mutual trust and the feeling of being valued can go a long way in heading off problems before they escalate. With the guidance of your HR representatives and management, you should be able to handle whatever issue comes along.
How can you get the scoop on employment laws that apply to your business? Download our free e-book, Employment law: Are you putting your business at risk?