Most employees just want to go to work, do a decent job, earn money, and come home satisfied at the end of the day. But unfortunately, some managers or team members feel that it’s within their rights to pick on a member of staff, making their lives a misery.
Bullying isn’t just happening in schools by kids who don’t know any better – it is on the rise in UK workplaces. In one year (2015), the ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) helpline received around 20,000 calls about harassment and bullying at work.
According to Gov.uk, bullying and harassment is behaviour that makes someone feel intimidated or offended, however one of the most challenging things surrounding bullying in the workplace is that it can take all shapes and sizes.
If all forms of bullying were as overt as getting smacked on the head at the water cooler, then anyone would be able to spot the offensive behaviour but bullying often goes unnoticed in the workplace because it is a slow process of emotional and psychological manipulation that is hard to prove and detect and it can range from undermining someone’s work to isolation or exclusion from team activities. Often employees don’t recognise bullying but may feel a vague discomfort towards the perpetrator and may dread or fear seeing an individual.
According to ACAS people bullied at work can experience a range of psychological and physical health problems and some are so badly affected that they actually consider suicide. The treatment they experience also tends to influence their lives outside of work. Respondents to a Family Lives survey published in 2015 revealed that those affected by Workplace Bullying saw a deterioration in relationships with partners, friends and family members with 70% of the respondents being female.
While, surprisingly, there is no law against workplace bullying in itself available – unlike for harassment which is defined in the Equality Act 2010 – there are things you can do to manage the situation.
First of all, you need to start keeping a diary of every bullying incident that has taken place.
Start researching what constitutes bullying; this knowledge will help you identify and record the signs. The frequency and pattern of the incidents you record will be strong evidence of the bullying you’re experiencing.
Hard as it is to face up to bullies in the workplace, it will come as some relief to know that your company should have anti-bullying processes in place. Plan a meeting with your boss and talk to them about the treatment you’ve been receiving and any incidents. Make sure you have your incident log with you. This will help you stay calm and collected and enable you to answer any questions they may have. If your boss doesn’t do anything about it, you should consider escalating the complaint by speaking to your HR department or speak to an external organisation such as Bullying UK who will offer you advice on how to move forward.
Building a strong support network of friends and family can also help you stand up to workplace bullies. Developing positive relationships with people who appreciate you and your work will help boost your confidence and will reassure you that you can turn to them when you face difficult situations.
Leaving your position because of bullying should be your last resort although it could give you the chance to work in a more positive environment where you feel safe, it could be your chance to shine again. But if you love your job, why let them drive you out?
About the author
Dawn-Maria France is an award-winning and accomplished journalist and the Editor-in-chief of Yorkshire Women’s Life, now in its 15th year.
She is passionate about women’s rights, equality and diversity and has written opinion features for the Huffington Post about equality, women and mental health and women’s portrayal in the media.