Christmas in your Workplace – Office parties, workplace gatherings, and after-work drinking sessions are all beckoning. Now the Christmas festivities are calling – most employers are looking to treat their employees by allowing a little frivolity and fun to slip into the daily routine.  However, the season that should extend good will to all men – often doesn’t, and for some women not at all.

Parties can be a lot of fun, but for some they are simply humiliation, bullying, harassment and general misery. 

The imbalances of authority in workplace relationships in the daytime, are played out in a formal and controlled way. However when too much alcohol gives rise to a loss of inhibition, at the office get-together, then a sense of entitlement can increase rapidly.  Drunken men, or indeed women, without the tethers of formality, may think it just fine to place his (or her) hands on the student intern, or force kisses and embraces on the nurse in the medical room, or indeed do much worse to any of his or her colleagues, and may, when rebuffed, become obnoxious, to save loss of face and pride.  Many women, and men too, have suffered bullying and harassment both in the party and afterwards at work when the cold light of day returns.

The recent news about the disgraced producer and co-founder of Miramax Film Company, Harvey Weinstein, is surely not a surprise in a world where, routinely, career promoting in return for sexual favours is well documented.  The serial nature of Mr Weinstein’s abusive proclivity does seem extreme and in scale matches his power and might in the film industry.  It seems parties, private drinks gatherings, and candlelight dinners were his playpen and the proverbial “come to my room where its quiet, and we can talk about your career in my hands” his modus operandi.  Many female rising stars were hurt by him.  On a lesser scale, but with no less harm, this kind of abuse is all too common for women and men in workplaces all over Australia.   

Of course workplace bullying and harassment do not always have sexual control at their core – as in the Weinstein case. Employees have been bullied and relentlessly demeaned by supervisors, and by members of their own team, simply because these bullies exist!

It is therefore important that everyone learn what their rights are in situations like this and it is crucial that employers look at themselves and make sure that members of their Senior Management Teams, Heads of Departments and staff teams are fully aware of how they should behave toward each other.  Australia has anti-bullying laws that are very helpful but not everyone knows about them.  Fresh HR Insights can help workplaces and staff groups how to deal with these kinds of issues, give guidance on processes that support staff who have complaints, and generally help workplaces set standards to avoid bullying and harassment whatever the cause.

We, at Fresh HR Insights Pty Ltd recommend that you have the following policies and Procedures in place (as a minimum) prior to the festive season and ensure that you have communicated these to your team(s).

So, our advice for the coming festivities is enjoy the fun and the merriment, but stay aware of everyone’s rights at work. Be prepared by having your expectations clearly communicated. Drop out an email prior to the event to let everyone know what is expected and what is not tolerated.

Happy Festive Session  

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