Everyone will be a bystander of unacceptable behaviour at one time in their career, however not everyone realises their responsibility to act. There are barriers to people speaking out and many of these stems from a workforce culture where individuals feel they will be isolated and unsupported. This results in unacceptable and harmful behaviours becoming normalised.
A whole force approach is vital. Policies are a start, however Bystander Responsibility needs to be positively promoted and personnel supported with the tools and confidence to speak out. This starts by creating a healthy workforce culture, particularly concerning psychological safety. For the victim, it is important they understand they are not alone and feel supported. This also applies to the bystander so that when they witness unacceptable behaviour and step in, they are able to report it without the fear of retaliation and repercussions.
What is an Active Bystander?
A bystander observes unacceptable behaviour or a conflict between two other people. An active bystander observes a situation and decides to intervene.
We all have a responsibility to act, failing to can reinforce the perpetrators actions and we can even be seen as being an accomplice, potentially having a bigger impact on the victim.
Research indicates that bystander intervention culture can be an effective way of preventing and discouraging unacceptable behaviour because the lines of acceptability are clear to everyone and the perpetrator understands the potential consequences.
How to create an active bystander culture in the workforce?
Our training clarifies acceptable and unacceptable standards of behaviour, a toolkit to safely intervene, the importance of an inclusive team and provides leaders with the skills to effectively support those who have reported, witnessed, or been accused of unacceptable behaviour.
This training is essential for all ranks.
Benefits of active bystander training
Creating a safe and healthy environment
Building confidence of individuals to speak out
Encouraging team cohesion
Improving the physical and psychological health of units
Alongside the facilitated interactive activities there will be live scenarios reflecting interactions that are recognisable and relevant to the participants.
Using professional actors allows participants to practise the tools and skills they learn through forum theatre; instructing the characters and observing how their advice plays out live in front of them. This is a practical tool that demonstrates the outcomes of the actions advised. Our interactive training method encourages open discussion, creating a safe environment for individuals to discuss the expectations they have of themselves, their unit, and the organisation.
Using scenarios provides an opportunity to discuss:
Studies have proven active bystander training reduces harassment in the workplace and is effective in increasing self-reported bystander confidence, intent to help, and perception of peer-helping behaviour.
(Public Health England, 2020)