Bullying – It’s Not Just In School

Bullying in the workplace

When people talk of bullying, it’s highly likely that the first thought that comes to mind is school age children and teenagers. After all, bullying is infamous in schools and can often be a large problem. But what is less thought of is bullying in the workplace.

Many people may assume that only children and teenagers bully, but the reality is that bullying does not have an age limit. There is even an entire page dedicated to workplace bullying and harassment on the government website which lists examples of both so people can see what the signs are.

It Can Happen To Anyone

It may not be helpful advice, but the unfortunate fact is that bullying can happen to anyone. According to research published by TUC, almost a third of people (29 per cent) have been bullied at work. It can also be found in a variety of ways, some of which may be subtle such as cyberbullying or social bullying, whereas in more extreme cases it can include physical abuse.

Even someone being continually picked on by others can be considered bullying, particularly if it is having a negative effect on said employees mental well being. Bullying can lead to humiliation and other negative mental effects such as depression, potentially even resulting in an employee being unwilling to come to work or in the most extreme cases, resigning.

After all, no one wants to work in an environment that is actively hostile against them. It is important to remember as well that managers can also be capable of bullying. A manager should not be too aggressive or harsh with their employees, a manager’s job is to lead, encourage and advise. A manager’s job is not to terrorise.

In fact, the TUC found in their survey that in almost 72 per cent of the cases of bullying that were reported, the bullying was carried out by a manager. This can be particularly disheartening for the victim, as they may feel they are particularly stuck as the normal option for reporting bullying would be to report it to their manager.

How To Try and Stop Bullying

Someone who is being bullied may exhibit signs that can be spotted. An employee who used to be bright and happy but is now subdued and unwilling to get involved may be having problems. It may become particularly notable if they completely avoid a certain person, or even persons, altogether or avoid visiting a certain area of the office.

The hard thing for many people who are victims of bullying is finding the courage to report it. After all, many people may not want to rock the boat as the perpetrators will be their colleagues, or even their manager. But it is important that it is reported because just as we tell children and teenagers, bullying is not okay.

It may be helpful for an employee to have someone they can talk to at work that they can trust, or even just talk to someone at work to vent out their frustrations. On rare occasions confronting the bully might lead to a resolution, particularly if it is a manager. Of course, this would have to be done delicately to try to not antagonise them further.

Talking can sometimes lead to a resolution

Talking can sometimes lead to a resolution

Alternatively, if the bullying is being undertaken by fellow colleagues and the employee feels comfortable enough, then reporting it to a manager might help. They will be able to investigate this and try to resolve issues without causing too many problems. If this doesn’t work, then reporting to HR or making an official complaint may help to solve the problem.

For some people this may seem to be taking things too far, but a human resources department is here for this reason. They will be well versed on the company’s bullying and harassment policy and will be able to assist further.

For those who can, joining a trade union will give the option to discuss the bullying with a trade union representative. Not only will they be able to give advice along with support if it is needed, but they will be able to assist in any potential legal matters that arise.

Harassment Is Against the Law

As we discussed last week in our article about diversity, it is important to note that harassment is illegal in the workplace. It is usually regarded as harassment if it unwanted behaviour in regards to a specific aspect that goes against the Equality Act 2010.

Examples of this could be bullying someone because of their age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, disability and more. By being against the law this will give people a legal voice to try and stop the harassment if a company is unable to stop it internally, as employees will be allowed to seek legal action at an employment tribunal.

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Sarah Jubb
Sarah Jubb

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