Everyone should be treated with dignity and respect at work and bullying in the workplace should never be acceptable. But the reality is that bullying can, and does, occur in any workplace, taking a variety of different forms and affecting people in different ways.
Despite increasing awareness of the issue of bullying in the workplace, it remains a significant problem. A 2015 poll carried out by YouGov for TUC revealed that 29% of employees had been bullied at work, with women (34%) more likely to be victims of workplace bullying than men (23%).
With this in mind, it’s vital that employers have a good understanding of what bullying is, how it manifests itself, and how they can prevent it from occurring within their organisation.
What constitutes bullying in the workplace?
There is no legal definition of bullying and no comprehensive list of bullying behaviours. Bullying in the workplace can be verbal, physical, or psychological including examples such as:
- Constant criticism
- Overbearing supervision
- Shouting, aggressive behaviour, threats
- Mocking, ridiculing or demeaning someone
- Malicious rumours
- Misuse of power to make an employee feel victimised or uncomfortable
- Blocking promotion or progress
- Exclusion or victimisation
- Making threats about job security with no foundation
Bullying can be carried out by an individual against another individual, or it can involve groups of people. It can be obvious or hidden, and can occur face-to-face as well as in written communications, via email, or over the phone.
Workplace bullying not only affects an employee’s ability to function effectively at work, but it can also have a significant impact on their personal well-being, self confidence, and relationships.
Of course, because there is no legal definition, problems can occur when views differ regarding where the line should be drawn between what is and isn’t bullying. As a rule, if an employee feels that they are being bullied then, as an employer, you need to step in. According to the Trade Union Congress (TUC), “ usually, if a person genuinely believes that they are being singled out for unfair treatment by a boss or colleague, they are probably being bullied.”
Your duties as an employer
As an employer, you have a duty of care towards your employees and an obligation to take steps to prevent bullying and harassment in the workplace. You also have responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 for the welfare of your employees.
As well as protecting and supporting your employees, taking a stance on bullying is also in your companies interests as bullying can result in poor morale, lost productivity, absence, damage to the business’ reputation, resignations, and more.
Ensure that you have a clear Bullying and Harassment Policy in place so that you have a clear, consistent, fair, and legal protocol to follow.
If you need a policy in place, contact us today.