As part of Anti-Bullying Week 2021, it is important to highlight that bullying is not just a school problem — adults are also affected by bullying. In fact, the bullying culture among adults in the workplace can be quite significant, especially in certain professional settings. For example, there has been an increase in bullying in the medical and teaching professions in recent years. If workplace bullying is not dealt with effectively, it can lead to an increase in absence due to stress and anxiety.
A study conducted in 2020 by SME Loans revealed that 23% of the British workforce have been bullied at work. A further study on RTE News Ireland in 2021 found that workplace bullying costs Ireland €239 million every year.
The fact that many individuals in certain professions are signed off work each week because of bullying is unacceptable. Everyone has a right to expect respect and dignity at work and there are steps that employers can take to prevent workplace bullying. Primarily, employers need to ensure they follow the appropriate code of practice on workplace bullying in their country of residence, which is a legal requirement.
Workplace bullying takes many forms. Employers and employees should look out for the following types of behaviour which may indicate bullying in the workplace:
- Spreading lies and gossip
- Singling out an individual as the target of jokes
- Physical or emotional harassment
- Deliberately ignoring or isolating an individual
- Giving an individual an unmanageable workload
If you feel you or a colleague may be the target of bullying in the workplace, you can take the following steps:
- Keep a written record of every instance of bullying. Note down dates, times and details of what occurred and include the names of those who were present.
- Tell someone you trust. This is more for support than anything else.
- If possible, let the bully know that their behaviour is not acceptable and needs to stop.
- Finally, approach your manager and the HR department to report what is going on. They have a duty of care to take action to tackle bullying.
Remember — bullying in the workplace should not be tolerated. It needs to be dealt with swiftly whenever and wherever it occurs.
Related: Anti-Bullying Week