How to deal with workplace bullying

 Most of us spend a large proportion of our time at work. We may spend more time with our work colleagues than our own family. With such a significant part of time taken up with work it is vital that we feel happy in our work environment. A big part of this is feeling that we are treated with respect by our employer and work colleagues. Unfortunately for many employees this is not the case. A CareerBuilder survey among workers in the USA revealed that more than 1 in 4 workers have felt bullied at work. So what should you do if you feel that you are being unfairly treated at work? This article sets out what workplace bullying is and what you can do to stop it.

What is workplace bullying?

Bullying is a form of harassment in which the bully undermines and belittles or assaults the recipient. You are probably being bullied if you experience any of the following:

  • constant criticism;
  • you are humiliated in front of colleagues;
  • physical or verbal violence;
  • impractical deadlines;
  • your priorities and objectives are set and changed unreasonably;
  • unnecessary invoking of disciplinary or capability procedures;
  • the withholding of work responsibility;
  • your are deliberately ignored or excluded from work activities;
  • you are blamed for problems caused by others; and/or
  • you are denied opportunities to promotion or training.

What should If I am being bullied at work?

 Keep detailed notes of the incidents, including dates and times, what was said, or done to you and how you responded.  Try to be as factual as possible.  If possible note witnesses to the behaviour and your response to it.

 Obtain a copy of your employers Harassment/Bullying Policy.  This should set out what constitutes unacceptable behaviour and how issues are resolved.

 If you can, try to summon the confidence to ask the alleged bully to stop, but do not worry if you can’t.  This can be done face-to-face or in writing. Emphasise the effect his/her behaviour is having on you.  Point out what your workplace Bullying Policy says.  Many cases of bullying can be dealt with in this informal way.  A person may be unaware of the effect their behaviour is having on others and once it is drawn to their attention, may change their behaviour.  Keep a note of the outcome of any discussions.

 Don’t suffer alone.  Speak to your manager, your union representative or to a trusted colleague or friend.  If it is your manager that is doing the bullying you should make your complaint in writing and ask for it to be passed on to another manager. If this is not possible ask the complaint to be passed on to your manager’s boss or to your Human Resources department.

 If the alleged bullying persists, you will need to make a formal complaint by following your employer’s grievance procedure. Always make sure that you have a union representative or a college or friend with you at any meetings connected with your complaint. If your employers do not solve the problem you may want to consider legal action. It is important that you take professional advice before embarking on any action.