Creating a Respectful Workplace

Who does what? A look at contributions to a respectful workplace from HR, OESH and Government

A disrespectful workplace can put people at risk. It can also create an unsafe and unhealthy environment. Staff deserve a safe and comfortable environment to do their job, that's why the Winnipeg Health Region is committed to raising awareness and providing tangible material about how to create a respectful workplace.

"Follow through is the core component with respectful workplace. We need to make sure we're meeting not only our legal requirements for respectful workplace, but also ensuring our staff an environment where they can be successful by focusing on providing care," says John Van Massenhoven, Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer.

If you encounter disrespectful behaviour, it's important to know everyone's role in supporting the Respectful Workplace Policy, and a respectful workplace. Who does what? Which program offers what? Who can best answer certain questions and offer advice?

How Human Resources can help

Human Resources (HR) can help you establish and maintain a respectful workplace through:

  • training and education
  • consulting in regard to a respectful workplace and how to proceed
  • incident reporting and investigating
  • one-on-one discussions with individuals around a respectful workplace concern, how to bring awareness to an issue
  • follow through on respectful workplace concerns to ensure a safe and healthy work environment
  • suggest and arrange for conciliation or mediation as required
  • determine if a formal respectful workplace complaint needs to be made

Immediate resolution of an issue is the goal and desired outcome. Quite often this means misunderstandings can be addressed between staff members before things escalate to a bigger issue. For such scenarios, HR is available to provide suggestions on how to effectively address the situation. Your first step is to contact your HR site director. Click here for contact information.

Example of a respectful workplace issue:

A workplace bully was making work unsafe, uncomfortable and stressful for everyone who worked with the person. After an inquiry was made, HR had a one-on-one discussion with this person to bring attention to how their behaviour was impacting co-workers. Once the person was made aware, they made a conscious effort to change their behaviour, with support from the manager.

How Occupational and Environmental Safety and Health can Help

Occupational and Environmental Safety and Health (OESH) at WRHA is committed to supporting and furthering respectful practices in the workplace. OESH aims to protect staff by looking at preventing injury from any forms of workplace disrespect.

"The OESH respectful workplace program's statement of commitment involves zero tolerance of disrespect," says Jeff Martin, Safety Coordinator with the Winnipeg Health Region. Respect, after all, sets the tone for how we conduct business and how we do our jobs. Safety and health are interrelated and the safer an environment, the healthier it is.

OESH can help you ensure a respectful workplace by:

  • inspecting the workplace to identify potential risks for violence and/or harassment
  • strategizing with workplace teams to develop processes to control or reduce  hazards
  • creating a safe work procedures/safe work plan
  • training and education (i.e. Prevention is 9/10 of the Law)
  • incident reporting and investigating
  • reviewing and responding to near-miss reports from managers, provide advice about how to prevent reoccurrences

Example of a respectful workplace issue OESH responded to:

A mental health patient in a wheelchair was very aggressive and injured two staff members. OESH met with the manager and determined a plan to reduce the risk.

How Workplace Safety and Health Can Help

In some workplaces, the Province of Manitoba's Workplace Safety and Health Division may be involved. From the Workplace Safety and Health perspective, the respectful workplace is also about creating a healthy, safe environment.

Workplace Safety and Health may help you with respectful workplace by:

"We want safety and health concerns to be dealt with at the workplace level. That's the appropriate place to deal with it," says Jo-Anna Guerra, Director, Prevention Services Branch of the Workplace Safety & Health Division, Manitoba Labour and Immigration. 

At the heart of the respectful workplace policy is the encouragement and support to ask questions and listen to the answers. Ask for help. Ask your co-workers how they prefer to be treated. And do what you can to create a respectful environment. Creating a respectful workplace is accomplished through each person's commitment and contribution to creating a safe, healthy work environment. There are supports from a variety of perspectives to encourage quick and easy resolution of conflicts or concerns that may arise. For more in-depth concerns, there is a determined process to follow.

Respectful Workplace Procedures Manual

Frequently Asked Questions

"Respectful workplace is not the flavour of the month," says Martin. "It's a goal to introduce a respectful workplace culture in health care."

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