Bullying in the workplace is never a nice topic. You may have been the victim, had to manage the situation or been witness to this appalling behaviour. In any case bullying is unacceptable and should never happen.
What is bullying in the workplace?
Workplace bullying can happen in any type of work environment from offices to cafes to shops. It is verbal, physical, social or psychological abuse by anyone in your workplace. This abuse is repeated behaviour to the victim and can be either direct bullying or indirect bullying. Workplace bullying can affect not only employees but also contractors, apprentices and work experience students.
What does bullying look like?
Bullying comes in a variety of forms. The most common are:
Repeated hurtful remarks or attacks, sexual harassment of any kind, making fun of someone’s sex, sexuality, race or culture, excluding someone in activities that relate to your work, intimidation of any kind, physical or psychological harassment, sabotaging work such as giving pointless menial tasks that have nothing to do with their job, being given impossible deadlines or holding back of information needed to get your job done and initiations where you are made to do humiliating acts to be part of the team.
What’s not bullying?
It is not considered bullying if it is a single or isolated incident of unreasonable behaviour. Performance management is also not considered bullying. More often than not employees will claim their manager is “bullying” them once the performance management takes place. Ah this old chestnut! It is crucial to keep thorough notes on any performance management issues in the event a bullying claim arises.
How bullying can affect your employees performance.
Bullying in the workplace affects everyone differently. Some of the most common side effects are being less confident in your work, feeling stressed/depressed, your personal life is affected, you don’t want to go into work or go on long term sick leave, physical and mental signs of stress and in some cases bullying in the work place has resulted in an employee taking their own life. You have probably all heard of Brodie’s Law that was introduced in 2011. Brodie Panlock’s death is a tragic reminder of the consequences workplace bullying can have on its victims.
What you should do if you are being bullied at work or have a bully.
You have the right to be in a safe work environment and this is part of you employers duty of care. Under Occupational Health and Safety and Anti-discrimination Laws it is the employer’s responsibility to provide a safe working environment. If you are being bullied in the workplace keep a diary and document everything as this will assist with your claim. Include what happened, when, where and what steps you have taken stop the bullying.
Speak to your Manager or others in the workplace about the issue. If your Manager can not resolve the issue you can make a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission on 1300 656 419.
If you need assistance with bullying in the workplace one of our highly experienced Gurus can help. Give us a call on 1300 959 560.
Written by Resident HR Guru Natalie Bol