Staff offered £450 'banter' training after Whatsapp scandal

Staff offered £450 'banter' training after Whatsapp scandal

Leicester Police have offered their staff an usual training opportunity – helping them to learn about workplace banter, and when it isn’t appropriate – Leicestershire Live reports.

The workshop, titled 'Banter - balancing wit and wisdom', aims to guide delegates "along the fine line between fun, stress reducing, morale raising workplace communication and a harmful, debilitating and persistent verbal barrage".

The course is provided by an external training provider, Inclusive Employers, and costs approximately £462.50 for a half-day workshop.

Lynne Woodward, of Leicestershire Police's diversity and inclusion unit, is reported in Leicestershire Live as stating that the force places a great deal of emphasis on upholding professional standards and the code of ethics in the workplace.

“We celebrate the fact we have a hugely diverse workforce where people have differing opinions and views and this is something that everyone needs to be mindful of."

“This voluntary session aims to provide our officers and staff the opportunity to have a practical discussion about how comments made, either in conversation or online, can be interpreted by others,"  she said. 

“We recognise the workplace should be a sociable environment and this training is not about constraining and restricting conversations among colleagues,” she added.

The training follows an incident last year when eight police officers were found to have posted "offensive or discriminatory" messages on a Whatsapp group that had been started in 2013. Four of the officers were sacked for gross misconduct, and the other four were given a final written warning.

Some leaders take a very firm line against banter to prevent problems developing in the future. Apprentice finalist Michaela Wain, who appeared in last year's series of the BBC show, told GMB last month that she has enforced a ban on office gossip at her own businesses.

She explained that she felt it was her responsibility to ensure staff did not “go home crying every night” as a result of spiteful words and added that other companies should take steps to “nip gossiping in the bud.”

“No sales are going to come from Sandra putting on three pounds are they?” she said. “Everybody's got different personalities. The way I would deal with something isn't necessarily how a weaker character would deal with it, so you just need to nip it in the bud because it's not productive.”

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