Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Professional conduct at work: Managing workplace banter

Professional conduct posters
Professional conduct posters
Workplace gossip posters

I'm sure most of us would admit to taking part in some form of workplace banter at some point. Maybe it's winding up or goading a co-worker. Or having a joke at a colleague's expense. It may be meant in fun with no malice toward the other person but, the question is, does the other person see it that way?

Everyone has the right to go to work without feeling abused, intimidated, harassed or humiliated. Yet, according to research by Hiscox, questionable conduct is regularly observed in UK workplaces. This includes:
  • use of nicknames/pet names for colleagues;
  • swearing/offensive language;
  • banter of a sexual nature;
  • arguments/shouting;
  • jokes of a religious, racial or sexual nature; and
  • discussions about most/least attractive colleagues.
If the banter is perceived as offensive, discriminatory, or otherwise distressing to the person who is targeted, they may have good cause for complaint.

Ill-judged workplace banter like this could expose employers to liability for harassment, either under anti-discrimination legislation or the Protection from Harassment Act.

So how can we prevent workplace banter from going too far?

Firstly, all companies that employ staff should have dignity-at-work policies in place.

Secondly, the policies should be well-publicised so that all employees are aware of the behaviour that is deemed to be unacceptable.

Thirdly, the employer must clearly demonstrate that they fully intend to enforce the policies, if the need arises.

Banter, gossip and prejudice in the workplace are recurring issues covered by Kodiak's motivational poster programme. Such posters provide regular reminders to employees to monitor their behaviour and attitudes while at work.

Our database has a wide range of original posters relating to all aspects of professional conduct in the workplace.

If you would like to find out more about how our posters could help you maintain or restore professional conduct in your company, please contact us.

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and safer, please call us on: 01530 456 000 
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