Bullying at Work – How to Deal With Bullying in the Workplace

For most people bullying is something that should end when they leave the school playground. Unfortunately, bullying at work is something that many UK workers have to deal with. Signs of bullying can include harassment or intimidation, or threats. Bullying Victims can suffer severe symptoms including anxiety and depression. Our guide will look at the signs of bullying in the workplace, and offer solutions to try and alleviate the problem.

an angry man pointing
Bullying, harassment, and intimidation at work can have a profound effect on the mental health of workers.

What is Bullying at Work?

Workplace bullying usually involves behaviours that are distressing to others. Bullying is any sort of behaviour that makes you feel uncomfortable and causes emotional distress.

Research shows that there is no one type of culprit, and that any member of staff including management have the potential to become a bully. However, there is a fine line between Bullying and Strong management.

Examples of Workplace Bullying

Commonly reported behaviours that constitute bullying, intimdation, and harassment at work can include:-

  • Shouting or using unsuitable language towards others.
  • Constant undeserved criticism.
  • Giving staff menial or trivial tasks.
  • Blocking promotion.
  • Regularly excluding someone.
  • Making fun of someone.
  • Personal insults.
  • Intimidation or even assault at work.
  • Falsely claiming credit for other people’s work.
  • Sending abusive emails or messages commonly known as Cyber Bullying.

This type of behaviour will normally be ongoing and persistent and victims can be left in fear of going to work. This can lead to bullying victims needing to take time off work for anxiety and depression.

How Much of A Problem is Workplace Bullying in the UK?

Research projects have identified bullying as a growing problem that has the potential to ruin workers careers, lives and wellbeing.

A study by the University of Manchester Institution of Science and Technology found that 47% of people had witnessed bullying at work, while one in ten claimed to have been bullied themselves.

Unfair criticism and intimidating behaviour are the most common types of bullying although the most serious cases can involve physical violence or the threat of it.

Bullying at Work and the Law

If you are being bullied at work, your employer has a legal duty of care to protect you. Your work should have a bullying policy in place. Even if they do not, they must take steps to protect you.

If you have to leave your job because of bullying your employer did nothing about, you may have a case for constructive dismissal. This means you could take your employer to a tribunal and seek compensation.

How to Deal with Bullying in the Workplace

Bullying will affect people in many ways, but even low level problems have the potential to make the most resilient worker unhappy and unproductive.

There are several things that can be done to try and stop bullying behaviour.

  • Speak to the person upsetting you directly. They may not realise their behaviour is having such a negative impact. Let them know how their actions are affecting you. It’s important to remain calm and factual during this conversation. If you don’t feel comfortable face to face, write an email.
  • Make a formal complaint. The majority of companies now have a process to deal with bullying complaints and there are also statutory grievance procedures that can be used.
  • If you have a trade union rep in the workplace, ask them for some support.
  • Keep a record of the bullying and its timeframe. Isolated incidents or arguments taken out of context can appear trivial unless they are part of an overall pattern.

Where to Go for Help

The following organisations have information related to bullying at work.

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