Discovering People


    Issue #32

    Bullying in the Workplace

    "Up to 70% of employees have been a victim of workplace bullying and it is costing our employers a fortune!"

    According to the Victorian WorkCover Authority, workplace bullying is repeated unreasonable behaviour directed towards an employee, or group of employees, that creates a risk to health and safety. Workplace bullying is not necessarily, or usually, physical violence but is much more subtle and insidious, such as intentional exclusion from activities and an intentional lack of communication.

    The bully usually acts out of a feeling of insecurity and may actually feel threatened by the victim and therefore feels it necessary to berate or downgrade them in front of others to increase their own level of confidence. We all have the capacity to bully, but the most prone work places are those with poor systems in place, or those undergoing rapid change such as downsizing or merging when power is shifting and people feel uncertain.

    The effects of the bullying, upon the intended victim and passive observers, may include: anxiety, social dysfunction and depression. These symptoms have been shown to linger long after the bullying has ceased. Even bearing witness to prolonged bullying can effect your health and may explain why 20% of onlookers will leave an organisation rather than put up with it. You may fear that you will be the next person to be bullied, or feel disempowered not knowing what to do or where to seek help.

    Employer’s feel the effects of work place bullying financially, with an estimated cost of $13 billion a year in terms of absenteeism, stress leave, loss of productivity and legal fees.

    What to do if you are being hassled at work?

    • Report the behaviour to the appropriate Manager.
    • Keep a record of the bullying including time, date, location and witnesses.
    • Address your concerns with the bully and ask them to stop.
    • Seek help and advice at work, consult workplace procedures.
    • If all else fails seek external advice such as WorkSafe, your Union or the Equal Opportunity Commission.

    What to do if you witness bullying at work?

    • Report the behaviour to the appropriate Manager.
    • Advise the bully to cease the behaviour, if you feel safe doing so.
    • Never participate or endorse the bullying behaviour.
    • Show constructive support to colleagues affected.
    • Seek help and advice at work if you feel angry or upset by the behaviour.

    How to effectively MANAGE bullying in your workplace?

    • Bullying is an occupational health and safety issue. It is therefore the employer’s responsibility to maintain a safe working environment that does not impact upon the physical or psychological health of its employees.
    • Experts advised to nip it in the bud, and FAST! Even if it is an informal intervention, such as making a joke about it to let it be known that it has been identified is better than letting it escalate, and ending up with a costly industrial relations claim against you or your business.
    • For further information contact WorkCover in your state.

    Source: The Sunday Telegraph, body+soul May 1, 2005

    Always remember your consultant can be a great source of information and is here to help you achieve your job seeking goals. Therefore feel free to contact us at anytime with any of your questions. (02) 9570 2411