Meeting in a Box

The BC Public Service is committed to promoting a work environment that is free from discrimination and harassment and where all employees are treated with respect and dignity.

The responsibility for building and maintaining a respectful workplace is shared by everyone in the BC Public Service.

Healthy and respectful work environments lead to higher employee morale, superior customer service and increased productivity—all important aspects of a positive work culture. Striving to be the best and continually improving the work environment means that employees and supervisors must be proactive by focusing on prevention of inappropriate behaviour before it happens.

The BC Public Service Agency provides a range of information and services to foster a positive workplace and demonstrates the public service's commitment to safe and respectful workplaces. The Respectful Workplace Program focuses on increasing awareness, empowering employees, promoting information and services to support a respectful culture and encouraging healthy workplaces for everyone within government.

As a leader, part of your role as a supervisor or member of an Employee Advisory Council is to help promote a healthy and respectful workplace. To assist you, the BC Public Service Agency has put together this resource for starting the conversation.

Meeting in a Box: Facilitating the Conversation about Respectful Workplaces provides you with guidance on having a successful meeting about respectful workplaces with employees. It has tips and suggestions, as well as a meeting framework to adapt to your particular team environment. Understand and communicate the benefits of a respectful workplace to your employees, and build awareness among employees.

Before the Meeting

Talking about respectful workplaces can be challenging and requires careful planning and thought. Determine the intent of your meeting. For example, is it to provide information, or is it to stimulate discussion? Understand what you are trying to achieve prior to planning an agenda.

To learn more about the tools and techniques of effective meeting planning and implementation, consider taking the Facilitation for Business Results and Coaching Approach to Conversations courses through The Learning Centre before planning your meeting.

Understand respectful workplaces

  • Everyone will have varying levels of knowledge. As the facilitator, your role is to engage and provide relevant information if there are gaps in knowledge

Develop an agenda

  • If the purpose of your meeting is to provide information, familiarize yourself with MyHR and the range of services that encourage employees to be proactive. If you want to start a dialogue, make sure your material engages your employees and results in a meaningful discussion

Decide on a meeting format

  • There is more than one way to facilitate a meeting and still communicate a consistent message

Once you have worked on an approach, review the following information to familiarize yourself with the topic, and consider having a conversation with AskMyHR.

Understand a respectful workplace

Respectful work environments are productive, rewarding and enjoyable for everyone. They allow employees to work well together and recognize that

  • Behaviours and attitudes affect others
  • Building upon individual strengths and abilities fosters a positive workforce
  • Each individual is unique and has the right to be treated with respect and dignity

As everyone will have varying levels of knowledge about the topic, your role as the facilitator is to engage everyone and provide them with relevant information where there are gaps in knowledge. Take the time to review any background information. It will also help you to understand how the BC Public Service supports respectful workplaces.

Get available resources

Develop an agenda

After you have reviewed Respectful Workplaces and the tools available to you, you will have a general idea of the direction you want to take. Give yourself time to consider how you want your meeting to flow before it begins. Develop an agenda that will be meaningful and serve the purpose for your team, make copies and distribute it to your employees before the meeting.

Ensure there is an open dialogue; maintain a balance between providing information and engaging in discussion. The following sample agenda might be used for an informational meeting about how the BC Public Service supports respectful workplaces. You may also decide to present this information in a PowerPoint presentation.

Learning Agreement


Our Responsibility

  • Briefly outline the shared responsibility for building and maintaining a respectful workplace:
    • Standards of Conduct
      • Workplace Behaviour
      • Conflicts of Interest
      • Allegations of Wrongdoing
  • Discrimination and Harassment in the Workplace
  • Occupational Safety and Health
  • BCGEU Collective Agreement.
    • Article 1.7, Article 1.8, Article 1.9, Article 32.15
    • Memorandum of Understanding 13
  • PEA Collective Agreement
    • Article 1.09, Article 32.16

Importance of a Respectful Workplace

  • Talk about why respectful workplaces are important, or pose this question to your audience. You might choose to highlight the following points:
    • Respectful workplaces are productive, rewarding, and enjoyable for everyone
    • Respectful behaviour
      • Displays personal integrity and professionalism
      •  Practices fairness and understanding
      • Demonstrates respect for individual rights and differences, and
      • Encourages accountability for one's actions


  • Resources on MyHR
    • Perhaps you want to encourage your employees to be proactive and take advantage of the corporate learning or other services that are available through the BC Public Service Agency.
    • Provide a quick tour of the series of webpages under Working with Others


Decide on a meeting format

There is more than one way to facilitate a meeting and still communicate a consistent message. Be clear about the goals of your meeting. For example, if the goal is to stimulate discussion, the meeting will be run differently than if the goal is to provide information. Here are some questions you may want to think about:

  • Do I have any mobile workers?
  • What learning style will best suite my staff?
  • Will I need to present on PowerPoint?
  • Am I going to facilitate through LiveMeeting or an Online Meeting?
  • How much time will be required for the meeting?

If you are including a LiveMeeting or Online Meeting component in your meeting, ensure that you have access to a projector and have the required dial-in information.

Get help with Lync 2010.

There are also Collaboration Tools and Resources for LiveMeeting tips and best practice.

During the Meeting

Have the following items ready for your meeting:

  • Projector (if applicable)
  • Flip chart or whiteboard
  • Scrap paper for discussion groups
  • Pencils

Get facilitation guidance with icebreaker and discussion ideas.

Lead the discussion

Lead your discussion by asking powerful questions that encourage open, honest dialogue and questions. Powerful questions invite open dialogue. Some questions, such as those with a yes or no answer, discourage dialogue. Everyone brings a unique perspective to the meeting. Ask participants to share their views to enhance the conversation.

Stimulate discussion in your meeting and present the audience with hypothetical scenarios of workplace situations.

Create a safe environment

Talking about respectful workplaces can be uncomfortable. To clarify your meeting's intent, create a learning agreement.

Learning agreement

A learning agreement is a list of guidelines to be completed at the beginning of the meeting (for example, turn off cell phones, respect the opinion of others and so on). Guidelines build trust so people can talk openly about uncomfortable topics.

At the beginning of the meeting, write the agreement on a flip chart or whiteboard. It can be referenced throughout your meeting.

Learning agreement options

  • Option A: Write down points and ask participants to complete the agreement, or
  • Option B: Start with a blank flip chart or whiteboard and ask participants to create the agreement


As the facilitator, you might start with an icebreaker aimed at engaging the audience.


Ask everyone to find a discussion partner and talk about respect. For a larger group, divide the audience into groups. For 10 minutes, participants discuss

  • What does respect mean to you?
  • What does it mean to show respect?

After the allotted time, ask everyone to return to their seats and open the discussion. You might ask the following questions:

  • What ideas did you discuss?
  • Did everyone have the same definition of respect? If not, what does this mean?
  • Has your understanding changed about how your peers would like to be treated?

Capture the key points on a flip chart.

After the Meeting

  • Complete follow-up work on action items or unanswered questions
  • Follow up with employees and find out whether they found the material useful and if they have any further questions
  • Provide your employees with guidance, training and coaching 
  • Stay proactive and maintain the conversation about respectful workplaces with your employees

Contact AskMyHR if you have any questions.

Meeting Tools

Sample scenarios & discussion questions

Scenario 1

During a staff meeting, Thomas sits grumpily in his chair staring at the wall. When he is asked if he'd like to contribute his ideas, he shakes his head to say no. But, when Thomas leaves the meeting, he slams the door behind him.

To consider:

  • Is this an issue? Why or why not?
  • How do you feel when you see or hear Thomas in that state?
  • Although Thomas's behaviour isn't directed at you specifically, how does it affect you?
  • How would you handle this situation if this was regular behavior for Thomas as opposed to a single incident?
  • Who do you speak to about this?
  • What would be your supervisor's role in this?

Scenario 2

Terry likes to use humour in the workplace. However, Terry's jokes sometimes cross the line. You notice others, especially the two new employees, look uncomfortable with Terry‘s humour.

When Kim, a newly hired employee, says, "I'm a bit uncomfortable with that remark," Terry replies, "Don‘t be so uptight. I'm just joking. It‘s who I am."

"Then you need to change," retorts Kim.

To consider:

  • Is this an issue? Why or why not?
  • How do you feel Terry responded to Kim's comment?
  • How do you feel Kim responded to Terry's response?
  • What do you think Kim's impression of Terry is after this incident?
  • What do you think Kim's impression is of the workplace?
  • What kind of workplace culture is established?
  • How else could this situation have been handled?
  • How would you feel as an outside observer on the scene?
  • Genders are not stated in the example. How might knowing the gender of "Terry" and "Kim" impact your answers?

Scenario 3

You've just been hired. Two months in, you notice that four members of your six-person team always go out for coffee together. Sitting in the staff room with the other member of your team, you observe, "Those four seem pretty tight. No one else ever seems to be invited to their coffee klatches." Your co-worker replies, "They've been doing that since I joined the team. I've been the odd-person-out for the past three years. Welcome to the club."

To consider:

  • Is this an issue? Why or why not?
  • How does this make you feel?
  • How do you think your co-worker feels?
  • What would you do about it?
  • Was there ever a time those four invited you or the other member to coffee?
  • Would you go if they did invite you to coffee?

Scenario 4

A co-worker shares with you in confidence that a fellow team member is harassing him/her. The co-worker expresses to you that you cannot speak to anyone about it for fear of making the situation worse.

To consider:

  • Is this an issue? Why or why not?
  • How does this make you feel?
  • How do your co-worker's feelings impact you?
  • How do you feel knowing that you can't keep it a secret?
  • Why do you think your co-worker told you?
  • How should this conversation take place?

Scenario 5

Henry, a well-known, poor performing employee has just been transferred to Eric's unit. Eric assumes that this is a test from his work superior. Eric intends to succeed in improving Henry's performance. He meets with Henry to review his past performance issues and concerns. Eric suggests that they design an action plan together to correct Henry's weak areas. Eric also commits to monitor Henry's performance and to keep him informed of any positive or negative progress.

Henry agrees with the plan at the meeting, but on leaving, goes to other employees and complains of harassment. Eric has recently seen an e-mail written by Henry being critical of Eric's supervisory capabilities.

To consider:

  • Is this an issue? Why or why not?
  • How do you think Henry feels about Eric's behaviour?
  • How do you think Eric feels about Henry's response?
  • How could this situation been improved?
  • How else could this situation have been handled?

True or false challenge

Test everyone's knowledge as a group by spending 10 minutes discussing the following true and false questions:

Is there corporate learning for respectful workplaces in the BC Public Service?

  • True. The Learning Centre offers a variety of courses to help supervisors and employees build and main respectful workplaces in the BC Public Service

Are Performance Coaching Services only available to supervisors?

  • False. Performance coaching is available to all BC Public Service employees at every career level. Coaching sessions are strictly confidential and can be held in person, over the phone or by webcam

Does MyHR have tools to support employees in the workplace?

Does building and maintaining a respectful workplace mean understanding that disrespectful behaviour or conflict can impact health?

  • True. Supervisors and employees are encouraged to be aware of potential health concerns, as well as the many resources that are available to address them. For more information, see Make the Connection: Respectful Workplace and Health

are health and well-being services through Homewood Health also available to auxiliary employees?

  • True. Homewood's programs can help supervisors and employees address a variety of challenges, and are available to everyone, including all auxiliary employees. For more information, see Get Available Resources

Facts about respectful workplaces

About the program

  • The Respectful Workplace Program is a corporate initiative that provides information and resources to foster a positive workplace and demonstrates the BC Public Service's commitment to safe and respectful workplaces. Through various communications and engagement initiatives, the Program increases awareness, empowers employees and supervisors and promotes information and services. It supports a more respectful culture and encourages healthy workplaces for everyone within government

Supervisor's role

Addressing a workplace conflict    

  • For guidance on how to address workplace conflict when an employee approaches you for help, review the information for supervisors in Take Responsible Action: An Informal Conflict Resolution Approach

Best practices      

  • If you need help determining the best course of action to address a workplace issue or are unclear at any point during the process, contact MyHR to speak to a human resources advisor

Employee health conditions & reduced work performance

  • Managing Employee Health Issues at Work helps supervisors engage employees who have health conditions that impact their work. Supervisors and employees work with a team of occupational health nurses to identify options that help employees improve the management of their condition. Contact AskMyHR to access this program

Support for difficult conversations

Performance coaching services

  • Performance coaching is available to all BC Public Service employees at every career level. Coaching sessions are strictly confidential and can be held in person, over the phone or by webcam

Improving the work environment

  • There are a variety of tools and services in the BC Public Service to support supervisors maintain a healthy work environment. Get Available Resources is an overview of the support and services that are available through the BC Public Service Agency. Supervisors can also take advantage of the Supervisor Development Certificate Program, and the ideas for employee engagement and recognition to improve the work environment

Registering for the Building a Respectful Workplace course

  • Corporate learning for respectful workplaces is outlined in Learn About Respectful Workplaces and registration for courses through the Learning Centre is completed using the Course Registration System

Workplace bullying information