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Practical steps practice owners & supervisors can take to reduce workplace bullying 

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Workplace bullying is repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed toward a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) whereby the SLP has difficulty defending themselves due to power imbalances between the people involved. 

Bullying can include abusive language, aggressive behaviour, humiliating comments, practical jokes, unjustified criticism, deliberate exclusion, and the withholding of information/resources.

For SLPs, bullying can cause health problems, exhaustion, and decreased job satisfaction. For practices, bullying can decrease loyalty and reputation, and increase staff turnover and legal/safety risks.

Poor systems increase bullying risks. Practice owners and supervisors can improve systems to reduce these risks, as follows:

  • Formally require SLPs to be treated with respect, warmth, and friendliness.
  • Provide honest information about job roles, caseload and workload expectations.
  • Provide clear performance expectations (including around professional respect, teamwork, & resource-sharing).
  • Hold regular team meetings to discuss issues.
  • Address inappropriate and disrespectful behaviour immediately, with zero tolerance for abuse/disrespect, and mandatory escalation of incidents to senior management.
  • Ensure SLPs have necessary resources to complete their workload without competing for resources.
  • Accommodate reasonable training requests; and provide sufficient training for job roles and duties.
  • Support SLPs to manage interpersonal conflicts, complaints, and difficult work situations as part of a team.
  • Accommodate reasonable leave and break requests; and implement clear guidelines for taking leave.
  • Provide constructive performance feedback privately and respectfully.
  • Address underperformance issues in a clear, consistent, and fair way.
  • Assess and promote workplace safety, including psychological safety, across all workflows.

Sources: Tuckey, M.R. Li, Y., Neall, A.M., Chen, P.Y., Dollard, M.F., McLinton, S.S. Rogers, A., and Mattiske, J.  (2022). Workplace Bullying as an Organisational Problem: Spotlight on People Management Practices. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, online. SafeWork NSW: Workplace bullying.

For more on supervision of speech pathologists, check out our book “How to supervise speech pathologists properly in private practice“.

This infographic also appears in a recent issue of Banter Booster, our weekly round up of the best speech pathology ideas and practice tips for busy speech pathologists and speech pathology students.

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Man wearing glasses and a suit, standing in front of a bay

Hi there, I’m David Kinnane.

Principal Speech Pathologist, Banter Speech & Language

Our talented team of certified practising speech pathologists provide unhurried, personalised and evidence-based speech pathology care to children and adults in the Inner West of Sydney and beyond, both in our clinic and via telehealth.

David Kinnane
Speech-Language Pathologist. Lawyer. Father. Reader. Writer. Speaker.

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