Bullying is called the silent epidemic. Although half of workers have experienced or witnessed bullying, policies and laws dealing with it are far less prevalent. This is, in part, because bullying can be hard to identify and address.
People wonder, what does bullying look like? How can we discourage it in our workplace? What can I do to protect my staff and co-workers?
Workplace bullying is growing in Britain and many people are too afraid to speak up. Surprisingly, in the UK there is no legal definition of bullying, unlike for harassment, which is defined in the Equality Act 2010 and has associated legal protections) bullying is often defined as negative behaviour targeted at an individual intentionally, repeatedly and persistently over time. Such behaviour does not necessarily have to be face to face. Bullying can occur in many forms including by email and phone, through deliberate exclusion and avoidance (as you’ve experienced); it can be personal or related to work activities and it is more common than people imagine.
While there may be no law against workplace bullying in itself, employers do have a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees. Bullying can directly compromise each of these.
According to employee advice firm ACAS, people bullied at work can experience a range of psychological and physical health problems, often affecting their relationships with family and friends, and for some, resulting in post-traumatic stress disorders. It’s your organisations responsibility to respond to the needs of their employees in order to create a positive work environment. Those who witness bullying and its impacts may be equally affected. In more extreme cases, helpline advisers at ACAS reported that callers had related how workplace bullying led to them self-harming or contemplating suicide. Job performance is very often affected and, understandably, professional and personal relationships in the workplace can suffer quickly.
So what can you do?
So here’s an action plan – but remember, while these tips will help you do your best to manage the situation, it’s your organisations responsibility to respond to the needs of their employees in order to create a positive work environment.
- Keep a diary of every incident that happens – a written note of who said or did what, and when. The frequency and pattern of the incidents you record will be strong evidence of the bullying you’re experiencing, and will make it challenging for the bullies to deny when they’re confronted.
- Get informed. Read up about bullying to understand more about your bullies’ behaviour and ways in which you can respond effectively. Research your employer’s approach to employee welfare and investigate whether they have a specific policy covering bullying and harassment. Knowledge will help you deal with this situation.
- Talk to your colleagues. Seek input from those you work with; have they witnessed any of the incidents you’ve experienced? If so, their evidence will prove useful to you if you need to escalate a complaint. Have they experienced any similar bullying behaviour from these two individuals? Knowing you’re not alone may help you collectively address the problem
To find out more about bullying at Churchill Square Training and Development we have both an elearning course and also a face to face instructor led one day course. Click here for more details on the course and its content or contact us on 02392 160840/07811 946315 or [email protected]