Dealing with workplace bullying is essential to ensure employees feel safe at work. It can manifest in the workplace in many forms. An overly critical boss may single out and belittle employees. Poorly managed staff may bully others by ignoring their ideas.
Bullying between adult workers is often a taboo topic. There is a stigma that bullying is something that only happens to children in school. This is sadly not the case. Here are a few statistics regarding bullying in the workplace:
- 6 in 10 people have witnessed or been subject to bullying in the workplace.
- 37% of workers report being victims of bullying.
- in a sample of 2000 people who report witnessing bullying in the workplace, only 48% report doing anything about it.
How to spot bullying in the workplace
The act of bullying can take many forms. It often involves negative, persistent actions being taken towards a single person or group. It can happen both in person and online. Online bullying can often go unseen when it’s not in the public eye. This is why it is important to promote trust and open discussion to allow these topics to be discussed.
Below is a few common forms of bullying in the workplace:
- Name calling – Name calling is a childish yet common form of bullying. It is often very unpleasant and can lead to a toxic working relationship.
- Isolation – Bullying is not always verbal. A common form of bullying is the act of purposely singling someone out of a group. In the workplace, this can happen where employees constantly ignore other colleagues.
- Scapegoating – This can happen when someone is blamed for anothers’ mistake. This can be increasingly common with less senior and younger members of staff.
- Manipulation – This one may be present where employees receive constant threats over their job security. Threats such as these are an abuse of power.
The Law on Bullying and Harassment
Not all forms of bullying are against the law. That being said, acts of intimidation and of being offensive towards other employees is harassment. Acts of harassment like this are illegal under the Equality Act 2010.
Harassment – “Unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual”.legislation.gov.uk
Here are a few examples of protected traits for Harassment under the Equality Act 2010:
- Race, religion and personal beliefs.
- Sex and sexuality
- Marital status.
What Can Employers Do To Prevent Bullying
Dealing with workplace bullying is a a key duty for employers. They have a duty of care for their workers and must act to ensure a safe and healthy work environment. The Health and Safety Act requires employers to protect staff from acts of harassment and bullying and there are legal ramifications for failing to take action.
The Cost of Bullying for Business
The cost of bullying on people’s well-being and mental health far outweighs any added costs it has on businesses. However, failure to deal with bullying effectively can have a detrimental impact on business.
This can include:
- Poor employee relations which can lead to poor teamwork and communication.
- Inefficiency where bullied individuals struggle to focus on tasks.
- Loss of staff members where bullying victims feel they can no longer stay with the company.
- Loss of respect for managers and senior staff where they fail to deal with bullying.
Creating a Bullying and Harassment Policy
The first step for dealing with workplace bullying is ensuring that your company has a clear bullying and harassment policy. This should include:
- Examples of unaccepted behaviours.
- A statement that bullying and harassment is unlawful and unaccepted.
- Guaranteed confidentiality.
- A clear grievance procedure including timescales.
- The duties in dealing with bullying for supervisors and managers.
- A note of how the policy will be reviewed and monitored.
For more advice on dealing with bullying in the workplace, contact us.