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Discussion on Workplace Culture - Ok, who's a distracted business owner now?

Updated: Jun 3

That would be me!

Working to build a business as a PCBU (Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking) helping other PCBUs to keep a safe workplace and safe systems of work, doing a casual side-job to help pay the bills, helping family, riding the rollercoaster of fortunes both good and bad, living my best life, does all this sound familiar? Then you are a busy business owner and maybe busy family person too.

I've forgotten about blogging for a long time, pretty much since COVID. My personal journal/diary has been fairly busy, but writing for others has slipped through the cracks.

So herein lies a problem that almost every business must go through at some stage; juggling too many chainsaws at once!

ON top of that for the PCBU with their own issues, wins and losses, there are other important people around us who are having their own mad ride through life and business, and seemingly endless events out of our control.

Which leads me to the topic of workplace culture. From my observations, there are basically three types of workplace cultures:

1. The non-committal culture of just riding the waves, go to work, go home, don't get involved, do the job, don't participate in consultation, keep your head down, don't change a thing, "This is the way we have always done it" mentality etc.

2. Then there is toxic culture that destroys some, and often rewards the wrong people, full of backstabbers, and narcissists, all looking to be winners, no collaboration or win/win, just win/lose.

3. The third type is the harmonious culture that lifts and celebrates those who try to live ethically and authentically, and who want to build a cohesive team which listens to each other, and gives a hand up.

As a PCBU, it pays to be involved in creating a safe, harmonious business culture.

From my own experience, a PCBU and a team which accepts that we are all human, that we sometimes have issues which can blind-side us and make life very difficult, a positive team which doesn't back-stab, a team which collaborates as one to help all members, is a team which will eventually thrive and contribute to a strong, inclusive, and ethical workplace culture, which will lead to higher productivity, and an improved sense of well-being for all.

Let's examine our own business in detail with the aim of continuous improvement: is your business struggling with workplace culture? There has always been the struggle of busting through the "What's In It For Me" mentality, the selfish push and shove that a toxic workplace can foster. Personally, I have experienced this first-hand in a hostile workplace, and it can be demoralising for not just the person being mistreated, but the whole team when "teacher's pets" are able to get away with bullying, gaslighting, and other nefarious, overt or covert, narcissistic actions and gossip. Unfortunately, sometimes the bullying comes right from the top, or sometimes from middle management in a web of lies, which will eventually implode the whole business.

As a professional WHS Consultant, I especially hope to work with PCBUs who want to stamp out toxic culture, and who are switched on enough to realise that healthy and safe workplaces include all facets of human safety: mental, physical, psychological, cultural, sociological, and emotional health and safety.

Which brings me to the new Approved Code of Practice on Psychosocial Hazards; there has always been Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights Laws in the modern post industrial era workplace. However, since COVID, there has seemingly been universal and en masse understanding of how quickly out-of-control hazards, trauma, personal distress, workplace mistreatment, ostracism, uncontrolled bullying, blatant favouritism, or other psychosocial hazards can ruin a business, and sometimes destroy the person who has been victimised.

If you want to check out Brodie's Law in Victoria, Australia, you will get a good sense of how bullying has now been included as a criminal act. Suicide Trigger warning: this is about the tragic death of Brodie Panlock, a young woman just 19 year's old, following relentless and uncontrolled bullying by her work team.

I have created a short training session for explaining Psychosocial Hazards, what they look like, and how they are best managed, using some resources from SafeWork NSW, and from Beyond Blue Mental Health in the Workplace training which I undertook. I offer this free to my clients as my contribution in helping foster safe workplace cultures.

Have a safe and healthy day.

Gabe Condon

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