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Offensive behaviour...

…including bullying and sexual harassment. Bullying, sexual harassment and other offensive behaviour occur when one or several employees at the shop feel offended or exposed to unpleasant behaviour over a long period of time.  Read more here about offensive behaviour and what you can do as an employee, a manager or a member of the health and safety group.

VIDEO - INSPIRATION FOR STAFF MEETING - watch this video and talk about how you can prevent bullying, sexual harassment and other offensive behaviour (in Danish with English subtitles).

Understanding offensive behaviour, including bullying and sexual harassment

Bullying, sexual harassment and other types of harassment are referred to as offensive behaviour.

How to deal with bullying and harassment

Read the following about what you can do if you experience offensive behaviour, including bullying and harassment at the workplace.

For employees

For employees

If you experience being offended, bullied or harassed yourself

If you experience being offended, bullied or sexually harassed, you can do the following:

  • If you have a policy for bullying, it should describe who to contact and how specific cases involving offensive behaviour, including bullying and sexual harassment, are to be addressed by management.
  • Go to your manager. Whether or not you have a policy for dealing with bullying, you must tell your manager about the offensive behaviour, so he/she can address the problem.
  • Go to your health and safety representative if you have one. If you don’t feel comfortable about going to your manager – or if your manager is the person doing the bullying – you can go to your elected health and safety representative, or to any health and safety consultant or HR department at the workplace.

Go to a colleague you trust and who may be able to help you.

Take offensive behaviour, bullying and harassment seriously

Offensive behaviour, bullying or sexual harassment at the workplace can have a serious effect on you.  For example, you may feel agitated, nervous and insecure, and you may find it difficult to cope with what is going on. Perhaps your behaviour starts to change – you become passive, restless and have difficulty sleeping.

Headaches, muscle pain and nausea as well as psychological symptoms such as memory and concentration problems, aggression, anxiety and depression may occur.

Bullying hotline

The Danish Working Environment Authority has a hotline for offensive behaviour, bullying and sexual harassment at the workplace.

Both managers and employees can get advice and guidance anonymously if they experience bullying in the workplace.

The telephone number for the hotline is +45 70 22 12 80.

If a colleague feels he/she is being exposed to offensive behaviour

Take measures against offensive behaviour, bullying and harassment

If you witness someone being bullied or harassed, you should, as far as possible, intervene and point out this behaviour.

If you feel that you can’t intervene, for example because you’re afraid to be exposed to offensive behaviour, bullying or harassment yourself, you can go to your manager or your health and safety representative.

Read more about causes and symptoms of bulling and harassment in the Understanding offensive behaviour, including bullying and sexual harassment section above.

Here is what you can do

As a colleague

As an employee, you should help ensure a safe and healthy working environment. You can help prevent offensive behaviour, bullying and sexual harassment in your workplace. You can do this by showing your colleagues respect, by trying to resolve conflicts constructively and by being positive in your communication.

  • Also respect and accept your differences and your different competences and boundaries. Be respectful in your communication and keep in mind that we don’t always have the same experience of the things that are said and done.
  • Welcome new colleagues.
  • Don’t spread rumours and don’t talk behind your colleagues’ backs. Don’t say anything about others that you wouldn’t say to their face. Contribute actively to wellbeing at the workplace.
  • Speak openly about conflicts and resolve them constructively. Give each other constructive praise and feedback. Mutual trust is crucial; start by demonstrating trust yourself. And remember that making mistakes is human.
  • Help each other out and stand together.
  • Question other people’s behaviour if you find that they overstep boundaries. Talk to your colleagues about it. Make it clear that you do not tolerate bullying. If you witness bullying, talk to the management about it.

Read more

Related pages on Det du mærker

For managers

Your responsibilities as a manager

Find supplementary information about this topic in the sections If you are an employee and For health and safety groups.

Responsibilities of managers

The employer and the manager,  responsible for preventing offensive behaviour, including bullying and sexual harassment.

Offensive behaviour, bullying and sexual harassment at the workplace must be prevented and dealt with.

If, as a manager, you find out that offensive behaviour, bullying or sexual harassment is taking place between your employees, you must intervene.

As an employer/manager you are responsible for complying with health and safety legislation. Together, the employer/manager and the employees can help prevent offensive behaviour, bullying or sexual harassment at the workplace, but management initiatives to prevent and handle such behaviour are crucial.

Read more about causes and symptoms of bulling and harassment in the Understanding offensive behaviour, including bullying and sexual harassment section above.

If someone approaches you about bullying, sexual harassment or other offensive behaviour

It’s difficult to lay down a standard for what type of behaviour is acceptable and what is not. What is acceptable behaviour among colleagues at one workplace may be perceived as unacceptable and offensive at another.

Therefore, it’s important that you start by looking at how the person who has experienced the behaviour perceives of the behaviour, even if other information is needed to fully determine whether the behaviour taking place can be deemed to be offensive behaviour, bullying or sexual harassment.

  • As a manager you should examine what has happened, and how each of the people involved perceives of the situation.
  • Always take it seriously if an employee feels poorly treated and decides to tell you about it. This also applies to witnesses and employees who experience being wrongfully accused of offensive behaviour, bullying or sexual harassment.
  • Make it clear that offensive behaviour, including bullying and sexual harassment is unacceptable, and look for constructive solutions.
Bullying hotline

The Danish Working Environment Authority has a hotline for bullying in the workplace. Both managers and employees can get advice and guidance anonymously if they experience bullying in the workplace. There is also advice on how to prevent bullying.

The telephone number for the hotline is +45 70 22 12 80.

How to prevent offensive behaviour, bullying and sexual harassment

Here is what you can do as a manager

As a manager it’s important that you know how to address offensive behaviour, bullying and sexual harassment.

Offensive behaviour and bullying are often based on unresolved conflicts; therefore you should also be able to resolve work-related conflicts. If you address conflicts and take the difficult conversation, it can help prevent bullying.

  • Listen to your employees and take reports about bullying seriously.
  • Be a role model. As a manager you can set an example for your employees.
  • Make sure that new employees receive a proper introduction.
  • Make sure there is a clear division of responsibilities and tasks.
  • Be clear and concise in your communication. Focus on communication, including the tone of communication, and work culture.
  • Stress that offensive behaviour, bullying and sexual harassment is unacceptable in a policy for dealing with bullying and through your actions.
  • Intervene if you observe bullying, sexual harassment or other offensive behaviour.

Make sure that you can manage and resolve conflicts before they lead to offensive behaviour, and that you know how to deal with specific cases of offensive behaviour, bullying and sexual harassment, for example through continuing training.

Draw up a policy for offensive behaviour

A policy for dealing with offensive behaviour expresses the workplace’s view on offensive behaviour, bullying and sexual harassment and describes the procedures for dealing with offensive behaviour, bullying and sexual harassment.

With a policy for dealing with bullying, you can act quickly in cases of offensive behaviour, bullying and sexual harassment.

It describes procedures and who is responsible for resolving the matter and has the competences to do so. Even if you have a policy for wellbeing or for appropriate behaviour in general, you should still have procedures for dealing with specific cases of offensive behaviour, bullying and sexual harassment.

The policy can be part of your general staff policy, and you can introduce it at a staff meeting or on the intranet.

You should also introduce new employees to the policy. Draw up the policy together to create a sense of ownership. The policy should contain:

  • A statement that management does not accept offensive behaviour, bullying and sexual harassment at the workplace.
  • A definition of offensive behaviour, bullying and sexual harassment.
  • Reference to legislation and regulations on offensive behaviour, bullying and sexual harassment.
  • Procedures for how to deal with cases of offensive behaviour, bullying and sexual harassment.

The procedures should contain the following descriptions:

  • Who to go to if you’re exposed to offensive behaviour, bullying or sexual harassment, or if you see a colleague being exposed to such behaviour.
  • How to address reports about offensive behaviour, bullying or sexual harassment.
  • The consequences for the perpetrator.
  • The support, advice and counselling we can offer those affected by offensive behaviour, bullying or sexual harassment.
Talk about the tone of communication

Respectful communication and focus on communication help prevent offensive behaviour, bullying and sexual harassment and are a good basis for collaboration. It can be a good idea to talk about how you address one another, what signals you give with your body language, or how your work efforts and tasks affect each other.

Use the staff meeting

You can use a staff meeting to talk about what constitutes offensive behaviour, what makes communication good or bad, and how to be respectful in your communication. You can also use the meeting to reach a common understanding of how you are behaving towards each other – and how you should behave. Increased focus on respectful and constructive communication can lead to fewer conflicts and prevent offensive behaviour. You can start the meeting by showing the short film about offensive behaviour at the top of this page.

Tools and links

Related pages on Det du mærker

For health and safety groups

The work of the health and safety group

As a member of the health and safety organisation, you can help monitor your psychosocial working conditions. You can suggest initiatives and solutions if you think there’s a problem, or if you’re approached by colleagues about offensive behaviour.

You can also suggest increasing focus on the psychosocial working conditions if the workplace wants to reduce absence due to sickness, streamline processes or prepare for organisational changes, for example.

Increase knowledge about offensive behaviour, bullying and harassment

Start by reading the Understanding offensive behaviour, bullying and sexual harassment section on this page to learn about what constitutes offensive behaviour, bullying and sexual harassment, including the most common signs that someone is being exposed to offensive behaviour, bullying or sexual harassment.

Preventing offensive behaviour, bullying and sexual harassment

Preventing offensive behaviour, bullying and sexual harassment at the workplace is part of the general measures to establish good psychosocial working conditions. The health and safety group should be involved in the prevention of offensive behaviour, bullying and sexual harassment.

Put offensive behaviour, bullying and harassment on the agenda

If you’ve identified cases of offensive behaviour, bullying or sexual harassment, it’s the responsibility of the management team and the health and safety group to come to together and  discuss specific measures to deal with the violations and prevent them from happening again. For example, you can:

  • Conduct an impartial investigation in which everyone involved is consulted. Be discreet to everyone involved. Don’t draw any hasty conclusions.
  • Make it clear that offensive behaviour, bullying and sexual harassment are unacceptable and must be stopped.
  • Look for constructive solutions.
The quick method

If you want to start working on preventing offensive behaviour, bullying and sexual harassment, a staff meeting may be a good place to start. The meeting will help you put into words your experiences and thoughts about offensive behaviour, bullying and sexual harassment at the workplace. At the end of the meeting, you can all assess whether there is a need to launch initiatives. For example, you can:

  • Watch the film about offensive behaviour together.
  • Talk about the film: What is it like at our workplace?
  • Talk about what you can do to prevent offensive behaviour, bullying and sexual harassment.
Initiatives based on a health and safety risk assessment

If you feel that offensive behaviour, bullying and sexual harassment is a widespread problem among several employees at your workplace, you can carry out a health and safety risk assessment (APV).

In connection with mapping psychosocial working conditions, you can identify the factors to be improved to prevent offensive behaviour, bullying and sexual harassment in the future. The health and safety risk assessment will give you an idea of the scope of the problem with offensive behaviour, bullying and harassment.

There are several ways to conduct a health and safety risk assessment:

  • The dialogue method by which you identify the problems at a staff meeting and discuss causes and solutions together.
  • The questionnaire method by which you collect employees’ opinions and experiences in writing, and then find causes and solutions either in the health and safety group or at a staff meeting.

Tools and links

Related pages on Det du mærker