Feeling safe at work includes protection from situations or events that could cause physical harm, but it also means protection from emotional stress. Dealing with co-workers who openly mock work performance, sabotage work projects, swear, yell, gossip and engage in harmful pranks, is difficult. Working with lazy co-workers is also challenging. The important thing to remember is that there are constructive ways to handle these situations.
Speak to the Colleague
Speaking to a co-worker about abusive or unproductive behavior is not an easy thing to do, but it should be the first course of action. Engage the co-worker in a conversational, professional tone, avoiding confrontational body language. Uncross your arms, relax your facial expressions and speak calmly. Start the conversation by saying "I notice that..." and talk about the behavior you've noticed. End with "What can we do to work better together?"
Keep a Log of What's Happening
If meeting with the co-worker doesn't help the situation or makes it worse, start keeping a log with specific details including the date, what happened and who was around to witness the situation. This is important information to have before approaching your supervisor or union representative.
Speak to Your Supervisor
Take time to understand your rights and the expectations of the organization. Get a copy of the policies and procedures manual before scheduling an appointment with your superior. Understanding workplace expectations while being able to refer to them boosts your confidence when speaking to a superior. Give some thought to what you want to say and then schedule an appointment with your supervisor. Bring the written log of events with you for reference. Calmly articulate what's been happening and ask how you can work with the supervisor to resolve the issue.
Speak to a Union Representative
If you work in a unionized organization, you have the right to speak with your representative about any abusive behavior or about behavior where a co-worker isn't working to the company's expectations. You can file a grievance, but that should be the last course of action, not the first. Before meeting with a union representative, read your collective agreement thoroughly. It explains how to handle complaints and grievances. Bring your detailed log of events for reference.
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