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Respect in the Workplace Training Role Plays for Employees

Posted by Daniel A. Feerst, BSW, MSW, LISW-CP, Publisher, on


You can educate employees about respect, but role plays are unsurpassed for helping employees begin the shift from being tolerant and respectful, to altering their biases that may spring back to life in the workplace and increase risk to the employer. Here are several role plays worth considering from our [

Respect in the Workplace Training Package. Respectful Workplace Education and Training

Exercise – Role Plays -- Instructions

• These exercise can be done in a large group setting
• Choose which scenario you would like to act-out
• The bullying scene should take no more than 5 minutes
• After the scenes, the group should discuss the following:
    o What behaviors did you see as inappropriate
    o How can this situation be different
    o If you were a witness to this situation, what should you do
• After the discussion, have the actors replay the scene using the input from the group

**Remember that bullying is repeated, unreasonable actions of individuals (or a group) directed towards an employee (or a group of employees), which are intended to intimidate, degrade, humiliate, or undermine; or which create a risk to the health or safety of the employee(s).

Scenarios: Obvious and Aggressive Behaviors

Scenario 1: Not So Nice Cook
Participants: Mrs. A. works as a kitchen help; Mr. B., works as a cook
Starting situation: Mrs. A. is cutting up onions. Her superior Mr. B. is supervising her and is shouting at her in an exaggerated way, accusing her of being incompetent, screaming that the pieces are too big and that she threw too much

Mastering the Respectful Workplace PowerPoint Training Education

of the onion away. (Remember – similar behavior occurs on a frequent basis)

First take: Mrs. A., obviously scared, is standing there with sloping shoulders and lowered head. She goes on cutting but her hands are shaking. Mr. B. is still angry, telling her that she isn’t able to do anything the right way. He thinks he should fire her.

Scenario 2: Reaction to Physical Attack
Participants: Ron and Jerry both work in the warehouse.
Starting situation: Ron likes to play tricks on Jerry and Jerry does not defend himself, so it happens again and again. This time, while carrying boxes to place them on the shelf, Ron purposely bumps into Jerry causing him to stumble and drop the box on his foot.

First take: Jerry is cowering on the floor, his face distorted with pain; while Ron walks away laughing.

Scenario 3: Spreading Lies
Participants: Andrea and Carmen are both teachers. Andrea is a new teacher that came highly recommended. Carmen is a 15 year veteran teacher.
Starting situation: Carmen seems to be set on getting rid of Andrea, she yells at her when Andrea tries to ask her any question. Carmen makes fun of Andrea’s new haircut and the way she walks. She has recently started spreading rumors about Carmen being arrested for DUI.

First Take: Andrea has just heard about the rumor and is very upset. She is contemplating leaving her job.

Scenario 4: Hide and Seek
Participants: Wanda and Tony are both custodians. Wanda has been working for APS for 5 months and really likes her job. Tony has been with APS for 6 years and has a reputation of being “mean” to all new employees. He considers this his initiation process. Tony has convinced the other employees that they should join in.
Starting situation: For the past 3 weeks, Tony and the other employees have been hiding the cleaning materials from Wanda and refuse to assist her. Because he has seniority, Tony gives Wanda the hardest work assignments.

First take: Wanda clocks in to work and sees the assignments she has for the day. She goes to get her uniform and cleaning material from the closet, only to find it missing. She begins to cry because she is so frustrated with this type of treatment.

Scenario 5: The Unreasonable Boss
Participants: Mark is Jenna’s supervisor. Jenna believes that Mark treats all the other employees with respect and wonders why can’t she do anything right to please him. Mark is very critical of her work and yells at her in front of her colleagues for small mistakes. Mark discusses Jenna’s work performance with every member of the team.

First Take: Jenna is a minute late coming to work and as she is passing by Mark’s office, he yells out – “get in her, I should fire you today”. He is heard screaming and yelling at her from the office. Jenna comes out very upset and goes to her office.

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