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Workplace conflict

Establishing and maintaining a positive, respectful and productive work environment can prevent the emergence of bullying and other unreasonable behaviours.

NSW government sector agencies have a responsibility to provide work environments that are safe, ethical, inclusive and productive. This means they must be free from bullying, harassment and other unreasonable behaviour.

Leaders, managers and employees have a shared obligation to create and maintain a positive workplace environment. Leaders and managers have the primary role in creating positive organisational culture, monitoring workplace climate and promptly addressing poor behaviour. Better outcomes will be achieved where employees at all levels also take responsibility for creating, maintaining and promoting a positive work environment.

Act, regulation, rules


Positive and Productive Workplaces guide

To meet the core values, all government sector employees should be able to say some common things about their workplaces:

  • We consider people equally without prejudice or favour.
  • We appreciate difference and welcome learning from others.
  • We build relationships based on mutual respect.
  • We respect each other’s dignity, regardless of the seniority of the roles we have
  • in the organisation.
  • There is goodwill between us and we work collaboratively towards clear common objectives.
  • We are all responsible for creating and maintaining a positive and supportive workplace.
  • We all understand how to give and receive feedback in a constructive way, to improve
  • the way we do our work.
  • We don’t tolerate disrespectful behaviour, including bullying
  • We recognise that the prevention of bullying is a legislative duty under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017.
  • We recognise that bullying can have significant adverse impacts on the long term health
  • and well-being of affected employees.
  • If we see or experience poor behaviour, we take action to have it addressed without
  • unnecessary formality, and without blame or reprisal.
  • We can see that our leaders and managers are modelling the highest standard of conduct
  • and giving high priority to creating and maintaining positive and productive working culture and systems.
  • We can see that our leaders and managers do not tolerate unreasonable behaviour
  • and bullying – they deal with observed or reported instances in a prompt, clear and supportive way.
  • We treat each other with respect, even when we hold different opinions or feel under pressure.

You are required to treat members of the public, customers and colleagues fairly and with courtesy and respect. If you are bullied by anyone, or you witness bullying, it is important that you report it immediately so that it can be stopped. Refer to your agency’s policies and procedures on how the report should be made and to whom.

The Positive and Productive Workplaces guideline focuses on bullying, but its approach and principles apply more broadly to addressing all forms of unethical or unreasonable behaviour in the workplace.

See also: Ethics and conduct

Other legislation and requirements guiding employee conduct

Compliance with the Code of Ethics and Conduct for NSW Government Sector Employees is mandatory (for employees of government sector agencies listed in Public Service Commissioner Directive 2015-1 — other agencies may have incorporated the Code into their own codes of conduct). (See: Ethics and conduct)

Several key documents set out the foundations for positive and productive work environments:

More information

  • The Positive and Productive Workplaces Guideline is a guide for the NSW government sector to prevent and manage unreasonable behaviour and bullying.

    This guide sets out the principles for addressing incidents of bullying where it occurs; however, its major focus is on prevention and early intervention. This is based on the evidence that bullying is less likely to occur in organisations that have a positive, respectful and productive workplace culture, coupled with a strategy of immediate response to any symptoms of behaviour likely to escalate into bullying.