Research Spotlight: Exploring Workplace Behaviours, from Bullying to Respect

Research Spotlight: Exploring Workplace Behaviours, from Bullying to Respect

Setting the tone for respectful behaviours and communication in the workplace is paramount for a productive, thriving workforce. A qualitative research project conducted by the State Services Authority in partnership with two Victorian public sector companies sought to examine how employees’ level of trust in an organisation and working relationships influence how they view respectful and disrespectful behaviours in the workplace.

The research seeks to deepen our understanding of the complex phenomenon of workplace bullying by exploring the range of workplace behaviours that may be labelled as bullying. The research explores perceptions of respectful, disrespectful and potentially bullying behaviours in the context of the two participating organisations.

The main findings and insights are:

Perceptions of disrespectful and respectful behaviour respectful behaviour

    • Respectful behaviour was much more commonly observed in both participating organisations than disrespectful behaviours. This was the case for both the behaviour of managers and peers and colleagues.
    • Respectful behaviours are the small simple things, often described as the basic courtesies of life, such as saying good morning, please and thank you. These may, however be taken for granted as a basic standard of behaviour rather than being seen as necessarily respectful.
    • Statistical analysis suggests that the more frequently these behaviours are observed, the more likely they are to be regarded as respectful – perhaps because this means that the behaviour is more likely to be seen as authentic.
    • Being tolerant of cultural, gender and other differences, listening when others are speaking and giving genuine praise and appreciation were the behaviours most likely to be perceived to be very respectful.

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