At some point in the story of every business, there needs to be a serious look at occupational health and safety. In most cases, start-ups will begin with a couple of people who get along really well. After a time they become successful and are forced to quickly hire new staff members. If compromises have to be made because of business needs, you may end up with a person in your team that you are not fully satisfied with.

But once they become entrenched, and if their personal problems become detrimental to the business, then steps need to be taken.

Act Before It’s Too Late

Often companies don’t see workplace bullying before it happens. They may accept individual comments and jokes as “part of someone’s personality”, but after a while, resentment builds up, and the joke ends up not being so funny. People who permit this sort of behaviour for themselves in public – that is, offending other people for laughs – often don’t know when to stop. Not to mention, they come with a set of assumptions that they might find funny, but the person on the receiving end doesn’t.

This is workplace bullying and if it is not stopped soon enough, then it can become endemic in the business culture and be a serious institutional problem.

Jeopardising Your Business

While it’s unlikely that a single incident of workplace bullying that involves two people or a small group of people will seriously hurt your brand image, there have been cases where this happened when things got way out of hand. The media loves these stories and likes to make sure everyone knows about them. This is why it’s crucial that a single incident does not become part of your company’s brand image.

Some customers feel so strongly about these ethical issues, that businesses which do not take proactive steps to ferret out workplace bullying before it takes place run the very real risk of losing substantial segments of their customer base, as they conscientiously vote with their feet.

Sexual Harassment in All Its Forms

There is a stereotypical view of sexual harassment in the workplace and most people associate this with a sleazy male boss who is physically interested in other female staff members. But this is only the surface of what often takes place in the workplace. For instance, there are many words that are highly derogatory towards women, yet they feature as a major part of some men’s vocabulary. When these words are heard in the workplace they cause division and bad feelings, and as such, will most likely decrease productivity while also creating a terrible work environment for women.

Every human being has an equal and inalienable right to be treated with dignity, and a company that does not support these principles will end up creating a very sharklike culture, where everyone is just in it for themselves. There are no winners in these companies and they rarely if ever, succeed.

Thus, occupational health and safety training is more important than ever and should be considered as a primary and important step to improve your business.