Workplace bullying can come in many different forms, some of which aren't always obvious. Here are a few examples of persistent behaviour that can be classed as bullying:
- Ignoring or excluding someone
- Ridiculing, humiliating or demeaning someone in front of colleagues
- Consciously setting someone unachievable, meaningless or unpleasant tasks
- Spreading malicious rumours or insulting someone, particularly on the grounds of age, race, sex, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief
- Overbearing supervision or micro-management
- Deliberately undermining a competent worker by overloading them, withholding information or through constant criticism
- Preventing individuals from progressing by intentionally blocking promotion or training opportunities
It's important to remember that workplace bullying doesn't always take place face-to-face. It can occur over email, social media platforms and over the phone too.
If you're experiencing any of the above or any other form of workplace bullying, CABA can help. If you simply want to talk to someone, our advisors are available 24/7 with a listening ear. And if you want to know more about your rights as an employee, we can arrange for you to speak to an experienced legal adviser on the phone.
The impact of workplace bullying
Bullying can have a significant impact on your mental wellbeing, your performance and productivity at work and even your physical health.
Often people who experience workplace bullying lose self-confidence and become increasingly isolated and withdrawn. Sleep problems and other physical symptoms of stress and anxiety, including panic attacks are also common.
What can you do about it?
1. Tell somebody
The first and most important thing you can do is to talk to someone who can help you understand your rights and what steps you can take. That could be a manager or a member of the HR department at work, or a union representative. They should be able to tell you if your employer has a policy on bullying and what their grievance procedure is. CABA's legal advisors at Law Express can also offer you expert legal advice over the phone.
It can also help to talk to your friends and colleagues about what's been happening. You may find that they've been experiencing similar problems. And talking things through with people who care about you can help you feel less alone and more positive about yourself.
2. Keep a record
Make a note of every example of bullying behaviour, no matter how small. Be sure to note down exactly what happened, when and who was involved. If you can, save any relevant emails or other evidence. This will be important if you pursue a formal complaint.
3. Build your confidence
One of the most pernicious effects of workplace bullying can be the undermining of your self-confidence. Assertiveness training can help build your confidence and self-esteem back up. Your employer may provide assertiveness training and there are some useful tips in our self-help guides, 5 ways to be more assertive and How to be assertive, not aggressive.
When workplace bullying led to Heather losing her job, she contacted CABA for support.
I was working at a firm but I was really unhappy there. The hours were silly, and although I was putting in a lot of effort, I was repeatedly told that I was under-performing. My superiors made it very clear that they didn't think much of me and the more they criticised me the more anxious I became. It was a toxic environment and it really impacted on my mental health.
Read Heather's story