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Bullying in the workplace

Bullying it seems is happening in workplaces up and down the country. In the UK workforce as many as 70% of us report being bullied or harassed by our boss, supervisor or a colleague at some point in our career.

Our clients tell us about the impact that this can have on their lives both in and out of work. GettingbullliedIt can dramatically affect the performance at work, it them anxious or physically sick about going into work. Clients can have trouble sleeping and feel stressed. They begin to question themselves and doubt themselves.

Bullying of any sort and including that in work, would be familiar to any 5 year old in the playground.  Bullies are trying to hold power over their victims through intimidation. This is considerably easier if they are above you in an organisation. Yet if you recognise any of the following behaviours recognise what is happening is not alright. Typically bullies will:

  • Use name calling
  • Shout in private or in front of colleagues
  • Will belittle people or use disrespecting comments
  • Will be excessively critical
  • Will set tasks where it is impossible to succeed, setting people up for failure
  • Purposely withhold information
  • Exclude people or send them to Coventry
  • Refuse to agree to holiday requests till the last moment (all the time)

If you recognise this in yourself what can you do about it? Very few of us are able to walk away from our jobs.  One of the first steps is to get support. Tell someone about what is going on, perhaps a partner or a friend, so you are not dealing with it alone. Next you should try to get the behaviour to stop. It is possible that in some cases the person is unaware of how their behaviour makes you feel. If you think this is the case, then perhaps talking to them will bring about a change. If you don’t feel strong enough, perhaps someone else could do it on your behalf.

Of course there will be many cases where the bully is only too aware of what they are doing and you may have to make a formal complaint. Remember that your employer has a duty of care to look after you, so they have to take your complaint seriously.  Many employers will have a grievance or a harassment policy and this is a good place to start. It will tell you what you need to do, who you need to talk to and where you can get support.

Try to stay calm and gather your evidence. Note dates and times. Note who was there, and if they would speak up to say what happened.  When you have your evidence arrange to speak to your boss, supervisor or HR and ask what can be done. If your boss is the problem consider asking his boss.

If is important that you realise that it will have had an effect on you and you should try to make some time for yourself. You should try to do things that energise you and give you enjoyment. Perhaps you want to do things that help you reconnect with family. Often with problems at work family relationships are under a lot of strain. You may wish to seek professional help both to help you through the process and help you recover. Whatever you do don’t suffer in silence. You deserve to be treated well.