The origins of workplace bullying behaviour seem many. One of the issues to, hopefully, emerge from Australia’s inquiry into workplace bullying is how to prevent and minimise bullying, but to do so, one will need to identify the causes. And these causes need to be more than an amorphous, unhelpful concept like “workplace culture”.
“Doctors and lawyers in training may have no idea how to conduct themselves as practitioners, other than being influenced by a lot of unfortunate “role models” on television. If we want to prevent workplace bullying, the training schools for these professions are the first and perhaps best places to start.”
This point links thematically to several recent SafetyAtWorkBlog articles about defining a safety profession, moving from a practice to a profession, workplace culture and workplace bullying.
Recently on one of the LinkedIn discussion forums in response to my post on OHS and productivity, a contributor speculated on the lack of occupational health and safety training or awareness in the business course in Australian universities, particularly the Master of Business Administration (MBA). He said
“It would be reasonable to think that the ethics and law of OHS would be covered in considerable detail in business management courses, particularly MBA courses at university, but the sad fact is that managers find out about the nitty-gritty of OHS on the job – sometimes by listening to good advice and sometimes by accident. This might explain why safety management is not integrated into business operations but is seen as an add-on accessory.”
So doctors and lawyers can learn skewed social values through their professional education. Future executives and CEOs are not taught that OHS is an integral part of business administration. Newspapers rarely cover workplace incidents. The media also rarely reports on OHS prosecutions unless there is a sexual element such as harassment or sex during a work trip.
With this confused and inadequate OHS information strategy, how can we expect to change the world into a better place, into one filled with respect for other people?