This week marks Anti-Bullying Week, and whilst it’s an initiative that is mainly aimed at school children it’s important to think about ways to spot and call out bullying in the workplace. Whether you’re on the receiving end of unacceptable behaviour or notice something about a colleague that doesn’t sit right with you, there are a number of signs to watch out for.
From rudeness to arguments and spreading malicious rumours, these can make the working environment pretty miserable and lead to more severe effects such as feeling ill, anxious or depressed. There are also ways that managers can show forms of bullying to employers with actions such as excluding staff from projects or ignoring their contribution, overloading them with work, treatment that is seen as unfair or denying a member of the team from further training or being promoted.
We spend much of our waking day at work and it’s an uncomfortable feeling knowing that something isn’t right. The first thing is to remain calm and reflect on what has happened, perhaps keep a diary noting down instances where you were made to feel unhappy. Understand that bullying can be a reflection of someone else’s weaknesses and hey are looking to intimidate others to make themselves feel better. This is unacceptable and it’s okay to ask them to explain themselves. Their actions may not be deliberate, so speaking to them about how you feel may make them realise that what they’re doing is hurtful. Stay strong and polite, and if doing this is too difficult then request someone else to speak on your behalf.
Ask fellow colleagues if they have experienced the same behaviour. Speaking to others about what is happening will not only open up the conversation about what’s really happening in the workplace, but they’ll be also able to help you. By opening up to your line manager, supervisor or someone in the HR department, they’ll be able to investigate and take the issue further. Also, if your company has an Employee Assistance Programme or an employee representative such as a trade union official, they’ll be able to advise on what steps are best to take. If the situation is making you feel unwell then visit a GP who will be able to offer professional medical advice.
There are more formal ways to report bullying in the workplace if the problem hasn’t been solved with the options mentioned. This means following the grievance procedure in place by your employer and if nothing has been solved then legal action may be necessary. This includes going to an official employment tribunal, but it is advised to get professional advice beforehand.
Harassment and bullying in the workplace are not acceptable. It can lead to mental health problems and take away your motivation to go to work altogether. There are a number of outlets to turn to including Citizens Advice, the Acas helpline and the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t and should be resolved as soon as possible.