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New Tool Helps Counter Workplace Bullying

Workplace bullying, harassment and unfair dismissal claims have skyrocketed. There has been a nearly ten percent increase of reported incidents over the last ten years.

Since 2012, there has been a 59% increase in enquiries to the Citizens Advice Bureau regarding workplace bullying. This is a real issue for New Zealand workers and one that requires innovative and wide-reaching solutions.

Uncertainty, significant shifts in economic conditions and decreased revenue has resulted in redundancies, liquidations, and significant stress for both employees and employers.

As many as one in five employees have experienced workplace bullying or harassment. New Zealand has one of the worst rates in the developed world. Women, and minority ethnicities, bear the brunt of this and are more likely to report experiencing this type of discrimination at work.

Integrity Line is a non-profit organisation set up by the Honest Bunch Foundation to ensure organisations, employers and employees are better protected from bullying, harassment, misconduct, fraud, and other unethical behaviour. The not-for-profit is placed to allow people to say what they see and for organisations to get real, honest feedback.

The anonymous service offers a reporting function by email, online form and phone where individuals can alert the organisation to untoward behaviour. This empowers those who are subject to these behaviours and provides them with an option.

The non-profit also offers a public-facing service when an organisation may require feedback on regulatory breaches, environmental damages or fraud.

“What we are offering is a service where both organisations and employees can benefit,” says Board Chairman Allan Freeth. “There is a direct cost to business from unethical conduct, yet the power structures of the corporate world can make it difficult for individuals to speak up. Integrity Line offers an independent outlet for misconduct to be reported without fear of professional repercussions.”

Going directly to Human Resources or engaging an employment lawyer can feel like a considerable escalation. Employees value the ability to report behaviours they see without having to expose themselves to uncomfortable situations.

The benefits for business are clear too. Absenteeism, high staff turnover, decreased productivity and the cost of time spent on investigating and resolving claims has a substantial impact on economic performance and staff wellbeing. Initiatives such as Integrity Line strengthen our businesses and strengthen our economy.

Integrity Line affiliated organisations are making a clear statement of the importance they place on organisational culture and their willingness to be transparent. This results in positive engagement and ensures that both employees and employers are better protected.

The anonymous reporting system allows employers to see where the issues are and implement positive solutions rather than responding later, when situations have escalated. This is effective risk management.

Increased accountability and transparency strengthens the reputation of an organisation and demonstrates a quantifiable commitment to best practice and occupational health and safety.

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