Recently, we advised a client on a potential workplace bullying issue involving a handful of apprentices. Whilst we’re not ones to downplay how seriously such allegations should normally be taken, we were also keen to point out that those concerned were fresh out of full-time education and probably lacking in experience when it came to knowledge of what’s acceptable and what’s not in the workplace.
Although pranks played on a fellow student could have resulted in a complaint of bullying in an educational context and possibly even expulsion in some cases, the potential consequences are more grave when the same behaviours take place at work. They risk significant legal and financial exposure to both the employer and the employee and therefore, termination of employment is a very real possibility despite mitigating factors such as youth and inexperience being likely considerations. The knock-on effects of dismissal in such circumstances can be disastrous for young people as far as their financial stability and future employment prospects are concerned.
Of course, it’s not just areas such as the distinction between horseplay, high jinks, banter, bullying, harassment and discrimination that young people need education in. Induction programmes will give a general heads up on what’s in store and policies contained in staff handbooks provide some written guidance and reference material regarding expectations in key areas. However, so much of how employees are expected to conduct themselves in the workplace is implied. Businesses tend to take it for granted that their employees will know to use manners, will understand office etiquette, will appreciate the need to check instructions and will be aware of suspected wrongdoing that needs reporting. That’s because they’re populated by people who haven’t known any different for most of their lives. However, in order to get the best out of young people entering the workplace, we believe it’s vital to open their eyes to the realities involved in the transition from full-time education to employment.
To this end, we’ve developed a training course entitled “Entering the World of Work”. The programme is designed to be delivered to school / university leavers and new apprentices as part of the workplace induction process. Developed and delivered by professionally qualified consultants with multi-sector experience and knowledge of the employment issues typical to each, it’s intended to address the lack of soft skills that is so often a source of frustration for employers and can result in the employment of young people not succeeding. Educating young people in this regard and developing their ability to adapt to working life will not only be to their own benefit, it is ultimately in the interests of the employer.
If you’re interested in finding out more about how this course is structured and how it could be tailored to your own workplace, please contact us for a discussion in confidence and without obligation.