Manage Bullying In The Workplace

“Treat employees like they make a difference and they will” – Jim Goodnight, CEO SAS

It happens.  Bullying in the workplace is a problem.   Does your organisation understand the risks and do they know what can and should be done to manage the issues? shutterstock_81600628 (1)

Workplace bullying is the repeated “unreasonable behaviour” directed towards a worker or a group of workers, that creates a risk to health and safety. An employer’s failure to take steps to manage the risk of workplace bullying, can result in a breach of Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws. Under WHS laws workers must also take reasonable care that their behaviour does not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons. Workers are required to co-operate with reasonable policies and procedures, such as a Workplace Bullying Policy.

Bullying Is Not:

Reasonable management action e.g.

  • A manager can enforce policies, rules and regulations.
  • Transfer, roster/allocate and delegate employees.
  • Deciding not to select a worker for promotion and or implementing organisational changes or downsizing, is not bullying.
  • The employer may reprimand, demote, discipline, retrench or council staff, as long as they’re acting reasonably.
  • Set performance goals, standards or management processes and enforce deadlines.
  • Single instances of inappropriate behaviour is not bullying.
  • Occasional differences of opinion, non-aggressive conflicts and problems in working relationships, is not bullying.

What is Bullying?

“Bullying is the indirect or direct act of belittling someone else or making them feel inferior”. It can be verbal, emotional, physical or cyber. Unreasonable behaviour includes victimizing, humiliating, intimidating or threatening.

Bullying can be:

  • False accusations.
  • Yelling, shouting and screaming.
  • Exclusion and the “silent treatment”.
  • Put-downs, insults and excessively harsh criticism.
  • Withholding resources necessary to do a job.
  • “Behind the back” sabotage and defamation.
  • Unreasonably heavy work demands.
  • Behaving aggressively.
  • Teasing or practical jokes.
  • Pressuring someone to behave inappropriately.

Bullying can cause:

  • Clinical depression
  • Severe anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Harm to personal relationships
  • Symptoms consistent with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Loss of confidence and self esteem
  • Withdrawal
  • Breakdown
  • Suicide

The impact on Business is also severe:

Reduced productivity – anxious people don’t perform well.

Performance issues include:

  • having trouble making decisions.
  • an incapacity to work or concentrate.
  • a loss of self-esteem.

Lost time – sick leave and avoiding certain work situations.  Research out of the United Kingdom suggests that workplace bullying has been a factor in the loss of 18.9 million working days each year. The largest commercial insurance company in the United Kingdom, has suggested that this scale of absenteeism costs businesses approximately 18 billion British pounds annually.

Employee turnover – Figures released by suggest that as many as 70% of bullied employees leave their employers. indicate that 20% of those who witness bullying, will also leave the organization. Every time an employee leaves the workplace, there are replacement costs associated with recruiting, hiring and training new staff. In addition workplace bullying leads to a decline in morale, further increasing the high turnover rates of employees.

Impact on company reputation – nobody wants to work for a company where bullying is not addressed.

What can you do?

If you’re being bullied at work:

  • Check your work’s policy on bullying and harassment.
  • Report what happens and when.
  • Talk to people you trust – whether it’s a friend, counsellor or other support person.
  • Tell a manager or supervisor.
  • If you can’t resolve the issue in your workplace, you can talk to the Fair Work Commission, speak to a union rep or if the bullying is violent or threatening, go to the police.

myosh is a global provider of HSEQ solutions.  In consultation with experts and clients, myosh have developed the Wellbeing platform to Manage Workplace Mental Health.  The platform enables staff to confidentially report bullying issues.  It offers managers a central and secure database for incident history and provides tools and guidance for managing issues in the workplace.

Mywellbeing is an innovative set of cloud based tools and resources that make it easy for managers to Identify, Nurture and Improve Workplace Mental Health.

Learn more at one of our free webinars


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