Workplace banter is one of the most common causes of conflict at work. What is workplace banter to one person maybe workplace bullying to another. But how do you know how someone will react? Firstly look at yourself and really ask yourself how good are you at maintain your professional boundaries? How good are your staff at maintaining professional boundaries. Exceeding professional boundaries with employees and colleagues can lead to over-familiarity and create unfair expectation of workplace relationships.
- Examine how much time and attention you give to individual members of staff. Although some employees need more energy than others, treating one employee differently than you do others may be a red flag that you are overextending your professional boundaries.
- Be discriminating in your use of social media. Avoid “friending” staff on Facebook and other social platforms to prevent confusing work and personal boundaries.
- Use regular one-to-one meetings to determine and reinforce professional boundaries addressing any recent behaviour that gives you cause for concern.
- Be attuned to workplace behaviour. Reserve the same courtesy and respect for your staff and colleagues that you would use with clients. Role model this behaviour for your team.
- Become alert to interpreting body language and other changes in behaviour. If someone was once an out-going person regularly engaging in office conversations and they suddenly become quiet and unwilling to engage, ask them about it. Why have they changed, what’s happened. Ask the explicitly whether workplace banter is a problem.
Workplace banter can be very destructive. No-one is saying that people shouldn’t have some fun at work, but it should never be at the expense of people’s feelings. The sooner you address it, the better. If you find out that workplace banter has become a problem address it! It might be a difficult conversation but it’s one that will reap dividends in the future.
Metis HR is a professional HR Consultancy based in the North West of England supporting clients across the country. We specialise in providing outsourced HR services to small and medium-sized businesses. Call us now on 01706 565332 to discuss how we may help you.