‘Oliver the Ornament’: A Christmas Tale With Workplace Parallels

In our house we practice the “Four Gifts of Christmas Rule” - each person receives one gift they want, one gift they need, one gift they wear and one gift they read.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any suggestions for the first three gifts on the list. But I do have a great recommendation for the gift you read, and it also ties in nicely with the difficult task we have as parents trying to explain to our children what we do at work every day.

Earlier today, the US President’s wife, First Lady Melania Trump visited Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC for the time-honored tradition of reading to the patients. This year’s book was Todd M. Zimmerman’s Oliver the Ornament, a heartwarming story about a group of ornaments preparing for the Christmas season.

Now, I’m sure you’re wondering how a children’s Christmas book can draw parallels to the adult workplace but, as the story unfolds, it is easy to see the juxtaposition of what employees in workplaces experience every day:

  • Oliver is simply one of a larger group of ornaments.
    • One employee within a larger organization.
  • Oliver has always been a prized ornament; however, this year he has a broken arm, so he is not sure if he will get put up on the tree.
    • Will diversity or discrimination stop the employee from getting the promotion or receiving recognition?
  • Edsel, a fire truck ornament, bullies Oliver and encourages other ornaments to do the same. 
    • A clear example of workplace bullying and discrimination.
  • Edsel even plots to have Oliver hidden away so he won’t be put on the Christmas tree.
    • An obvious instance of office politics.

I’m not going to spoil the ending for you, but rest assured that I would not have suggested the story if it wasn’t a happy one.

Oliver the Ornament a great springboard for discussions with your children about bullying. You can use it to explain to them that when you go to work every day, you try to serve as the advocate for the ‘Olivers’ where you work to ensure that every employee has a safe place to turn when confronted with an ‘Edsel’ at your office.

Also, it might not hurt to keep a copy of Oliver the Ornament handy on your desk for a little light reading for your team should an ‘Edsel’ rears his or her head.

For more information about Oliver the Ornament, visit www.olivertheornament.com.

Fight Back Against Workplace Bullying: It May Soon Be a Legal Obligation

You may be unaware that California has recently enacted a law entitled Assembly Bill 2053, requiring employers with 50 or more employees to train their supervisors on workplace bullying. Although this law does not create an outright cause of action for employees who have been the victims of an office bully, it is a step in that direction. As is often the trend, other states have picked up on California’s aggressive stance toward bullying and have begun considering similar legislation to curb the all too common practice of abusive conduct by supervisors and co-workers.

For many years, employers have educated themselves (and their employees) about the various harassment and discrimination laws at both the state and federal levels. However, only recently have studies shown that office bullying and abusive conduct are occurring at extremely high levels. That said, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is silent with respect to abusive managerial tactics and office bullying, and ignores the fact that this sort of behavior can be as damaging (if not more damaging) than the types of conduct the law prohibits (such as race and sex discrimination and harassment).

Bullying Creates a High Cost

You may be wondering what impact office bullying has on your workplace, especially given that it is likely not against the law at this time. Therefore, you may also be wondering why it might be worth the time and expense to conduct training courses to prevent this type of conduct when such courses may not be required by your state. The simple answer is 30-35% of United States employees report that they have been victims or witnesses of abusive workplace conduct. This amounts to millions of employees who may lose productivity or even seek to change jobs to avoid a bully that creates a hostile environment. This type of turnover is costly to a business. Therefore, conducting proactive training to avoid this type of conduct can have a positive impact on your bottom line.

What Types of Conduct Can be Considered Abusive?

California’s new law spells out a specific definition of abusive workplace conduct, but generally speaking any sorts of swear words and raised voices; belittling of employees; physical actions such as thrown paper; offensive or humiliating conduct; or attempts at sabotage of work (among other things) should be considered particularly risky behavior if they occur frequently at your office.

Syntrio’s Preventing Workplace Bullying training courses are specifically tailored to meet the needs of your business or industry, and cost-effectively train your managers and employees on what abusive conduct and bullying is, and how to spot and eliminate it before there is a problem. Syntrio’s workplace harassment training courses also cover workplace bullying

Syntrio is committed to helping businesses of all sizes eliminate abusive conduct and workplace bullying across the board, and therefore provides harassment in the workplace courses that are cognizant of the value of time to modern businesses.  Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about ourHR compliance courses and remember to follow us on TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance issues that may impact your company!