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Case study: Fostering respectful behaviour amongst employees at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC’s) biennial survey conducted in February 2010 showed that bullying and harassment were occurring in the workplace. The ACCC were well aware of the fact that respectful workplaces improve employee morale, job satisfaction, teamwork, productivity and overall workplace culture.  

The response was the implementation of the ‘Respect Program’ in June 2011. The program is primarily an education and awareness campaign comprising three phases, each with a specific focus. The aim of the program is to facilitate a safe, positive and harmonious work environment that is free of bullying and harassment. The ACCC envisage that this will assist to:

  • create an open and productive working relationship amongst all employees and managers where views and ideas can be expressed in a professional manner
  • provide strategies to ensure employees are aware of what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in the workplace
  • promote a safe and productive workplace culture.

Phase one of the ‘Respect Program’ was run between June and October 2011 and consisted of consultation with all employees to pinpoint relevant issues for the program to target. Employees wanted clear definitions of bullying and harassment in the workplace context and information about where they could go for assistance.

The second phase of the ACCC’s program was run during 2012. Phase two was a series of training sessions for employees which focused on understanding human values in the context of how they determine actions, attitudes and choices. The sessions also included time for open discussion to clarify expectations regarding respectful behaviour, recognising that it’s not just about bullying and harassment but more generally in terms of how you work with and treat your colleagues. These sessions were targeted at all employees, and the ACCC’s Performance Management Framework made it mandatory to attend this workshop.

Respect phase three will commence in 2013 and will be based around a mandatory annual e-learning module. The ACCC have been refreshing the program annually based on feedback and the needs of the organisation. 

So far, the program is making a difference. The 2012 employee survey showed that the number of employees surveyed who had experienced or been subjected to bullying and harassment was lower than the APS average of 18 per cent. The ACCC’s result was 12 per cent.  

Fostering respect and positive culture in the workplace goes a long way to preventing the negative impacts of workplace bullying.

Page last updated: 20 Mar 2014