Bullying in the workplace
Extract from 'Bullying' compiled by MSF, the Union for Skilled and
Professional People with acknowledgement to Andrea Adams' book 'Bullying
At Work', Virago Press 1992.
'When Managers of any description overstep the acceptable bounds of
authority and when they terrorise staff with their tyrannical behaviour
towards others, the psychological effect has been professionally likened
in many cases to that of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. So where bullying
is tolerated by any organisation, employers must be made aware of the
potential damage they are doing to employees' health, morale, productivity
and, indeed, the image this represents should it become publicly known
that those supposedly responsible for staff well-being, care so little
for their employees that they allow an oppressor to run riot with peoples'
lives from within. It is amazing to me that any organisation is prepared
to condone an atmosphere of infectious fear simply through its inaction.
Demeaning and devaluing men and women when they go to work is hardly
an effective way of managing human beings, especially if they no longer
enjoy doing their jobs. We all know that if we enjoy our jobs we tend
to work well. A failure to recognise bullying at work is certainly
an expensive mistake for management at a time when, presumably, none
of us can afford to be ignorant. Bullying is bad for business. It also
involves: A risk of being taken to court or industrial tribunal by
a disaffected employee, a threat to the corporate image of the company.'
Bullying in the Workplace can place an intolerable strain on the emotional
and physical health and well-being of an employee who is subjected
to bullying by an employer or colleague at work. This can cause loss
of confidence, loss of self esteem, tiredness an inability to sleep,
lack of appetite, panic attacks, depression and a dread of going to
Bullying in the Workplace can take many forms including:
Constantly criticising an employee, often in front of other employees.
Spreading nasty rumours and remarks about an employee.
Using bad, obscene, aggressive, threatening language to an employee.
Shouting at, intimidating and harassing an employee.
Taking away responsibility from an employee unnecessarily.
Asking the employee to do trivial and menial jobs which the employee
is not responsible for.
Withholding important information from an employee which the employee
needs to have as part of their job.
Isolating an employee by ignoring him/her and excluding an employee
from conversations and communications which are relevant to his/her
area of responsibility.
An employer passing off an employee's ideas and work as his/her
Expecting an employee to produce work in an unrealistic and/or
Blaming an employee for the employer's mistakes.
back to top
What can you do if you are being bullied in the workplace?
- Talk to others within the workplace - colleagues, supervisor, personnel
department, trade union representative. Take advice on the options
open to you to deal with this e.g. by making a formal complaint through
the grievance procedure.
- Find out whether your place of work has an Anti-Bullying Policy
- Keep a diary of all incidents with dates and times and copies of
any notes, memos etc. from the bully which you feel constitute bullying,
intimidation, harassment etc.
- Write to the bully clearly saying that you find their behaviour
is unacceptable and amounts to bullying and set out the reasons why
you believe this. Keep copies of any letters you send to the bully.
- If it is possible to tape conversations where you are being bullied
then do so.
- Try to look at ways of being assertive and standing up to the bully.
- If other colleagues witness any incidents where you are being bullied
ask them whether they would be willing to write a statement relating
to what they witnessed.
- If you have to take time off sick due to being bullied at work
ask your GP to record this on your certificate.
Talk to someone. When a person is being bullied they
often feel very isolated, vulnerable and alone. It is important to
speak to someone in order to gain support for yourself and to lessen
the sense of isolation. There are some organisations listed below which
may be useful to you.
Remember people often bully others through jealousy. Victims of bullying
are often popular with their colleagues and good and efficient at their
work. People who bully are invariably cowards which is why they often
intimidate others to join in with, or endorse, or turn a blind eye
to the bullying. People who bully others often lead sad, unfulfilling,
shallow and meaningless lives and have nothing more constructive to
do with their time than bully and make those around them feel uncomfortable.
back to top
Agencies which provide support and information
Telephone Helpline providing confidential emotional support to
Children, Young Adults and Adults on any issue. Particularly aimed
at those who are vulnerable, isolated, at risk groups and victims
of any form of abuse. Also provides details of counsellors and
support groups across the UK.
0300 123 1100
and advice on employment rights/bullying at work.
Bully In Sight. Overcoming the Silence and Denial by Which
Abuse Thrives: How to Predict, Resist, Challenge
and Combat Workplace Bullying by Tim Field - Publishers Success
Unlimited: ISBN 0952912104
Click here to read more or buy this book
back to top