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workplace_bullyingWorkplace bullying has been one of the key HR points for discussion this year, with new anti-bullying laws having rolled out on January 1.

The new legislation means that employees can now directly report workplace bullying cases to the Fair Work Commission (FWC), who can issue an order for the bullying to stop. According to the FWC, 44 applications were lodged in the first month alone.

Maintaining staff harmony remains a key issue for small business owners in Australia, and now there is more pressure than ever to put a stamp on bullying at the office. What are some measures you should take to help tackle this issue?

It's all in the culture

The chances of workplace bullying becoming a real issue can be hugely lowered if you make the effort to instil a positive culture at the office.

Promote a workplace culture where everyone is treated with equal amounts of respect, no matter their place in the hierarchy. It all begins with the leader of the organisation, though, so make sure you set a good example!

Implement a policy

Having an anti-bullying policy can help concretise your culture and ensure everyone has guidelines to adhere to.

Make it clear that bullying in any form and shape will not be tolerated, and outline the standard of behaviour expected from workers, what constitutes bullying at your workplace and what consequences lie in wait for those who breach the policy.

Lend an ear

Bullied workers often resort to the assistance of third parties because there was no one listening out for their needs at their organisation.

As part of your workplace bullying policy, make sure you send the message that employees are free to bring their issues to you and you will do all you can to resolve the problem in-house.

Keep an eye out

Take an active interest in your employees and watch out for any warning signs of underlying bullying.

For example, is morale and productivity noticeably lower than before, and are some workers taking far more days off sick than usual? These could be indicators that all is not well - and action needs to be taken.