Is Banter Healthy or Toxic?

Is workplace banter a sign of a vibrant and healthy work environment? Or is it a symptom of something more toxic? When does banter become bullying? Check out this video on banter from our Employee Relations Partner, Jim Moore…

The line between banter and bullying is wafer thin. The dictionary definition of ‘banter’ is the playful and friendly exchange of teasing remarks. But is this always what happens?

Sometimes, it can be innocent with genuine humour and goodwill. However, banter can stray into harassment or discrimination. This may be “ignorant banter” where no offence was intended. Usually, the person will apologise when they find out the recipient was distressed.

But there is also “malicious banter”. This is where someone is trying to humiliate someone else under the ‘camouflage’ of banter. This is the most toxic of all. If you don’t do something about it, the culture at work can become very unpleasant. Worse, you may end up with an employee grievance or a discrimination claim to deal with.

If you are concerned about banter or behaviour at work, get in touch with us. We can review the situation, help you manage any immediate issues and provide advice on ensuring everyone is treated with dignity and respect.