3 Ways to Cope With Workplace Bullying

1-2 minutes

If you thought that you’d left the bullies behind when you left school, sadly this isn’t the case for many UK employees.

Mistreatment in the workplace is more common than you might think. In fact, a YouGov Poll (for the TUC), concluded that 29% of UK employees have fallen victim to workplace bullying. 

This equates to nearly 3 in every 10 workers - a shocking number when you imagine this within your own workforce. 

According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, workplace bullying is ‘repeated, health-harming mistreatment by one or more employees of an employee.’

This behaviour can display itself in various ways, such as the exclusion, humiliation, intimidation, threatening or coercion of an individual. 

Some examples of bullying include unwarranted criticism, spreading rumours, insulting language, demeaning tasks, preventing promotion or sexual harrasment. 

If you believe that workplace bullying is a minor issue, think again. Bullying can create a huge psychological power imbalance which leaves its victim feeling helpless and in some instances, unable to perform well in their job.

If this sounds familiar to the way you’re treated at work, here are our 3 top tips on how to deal with the situation: 

Keep track of the bullying

A secretive bully will harass you out of earshot and sight of your colleagues. The less people who are aware of their actions, the longer the mistreatment can continue unpunished. 

If bullying is affecting your day-to-day life, you should begin documenting the events and the effect it is having on your physical and mental health. 

If you seek the advice of a trustworthy colleague, they’re likely to want proof of the mistreatment. This way they can escalate the situation with HR or management accordingly. 

To gather legitimate evidence, accurately document the time, date and location of the bullying, along with exactly what happened.

Note down the names of witnesses so they can corroborate your evidence if required. Sometimes a witness is needed to save the situation becoming a ‘he said, she said’ dispute. 

If the bullying is taking place via email or text, save and date stamp the evidence. The bully won’t be able to deny their actions when it is presented in black and white. 

Speak to a trustworthy colleague

If you’ve tried to resolve the bullying directly but had no luck, it’s time to bring in a third party. 

Most employers will have a HR department and policies to adhere to if bullying takes place.

Consider the way your HR department operates before deciding if approaching them is the appropriate action to take. 

Some HR employees are sticklers for the rules and will ensure all policies are carried out officially, whilst others might prioritise your emotions over procedure. Consider this so that you’re aware of how the situation might be dealt with. 

If you don’t feel comfortable approaching a member of HR, speak to your line manager or another employee which you trust. 

If you’d prefer not to deal with the problem in-house, there are plenty of other places which you can seek advice from.

 A loved one might be able to offer support or you could check out one of the many brilliant anti-bullying organisations that exist such as the National Bullying Helpline or The Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation.

The Government body, ACAS also gives employees and employers free, impartial advice on workplace rights, rules and best practice. They also offer training and help to resolve disputes and it is on hand 5 days a week. 

Having just one person’s support could give you the confidence you need to deal with the situation. 

Prioritise your wellbeing

Workplace bullying could lead to serious mental health issues for the victim, such as anxiety and depression. 

As well as the effects on mental health, there can also be detrimental consequences on a person’s physical wellbeing. 

In 2018, a paper was released that uncovered the startling results of a study carried out in Sweden and Denmark. 

A group, led by Tianwei Xu of the University of Copenhagen, analysed data from around 80,000 employees. The men and women were asked if they had experienced bullying at work in the previous year and over the next 4 years their health records were tracked to see whether they developed any cardiovascular illnesses. 

The results showed a clear pattern developing; of the men and women taking part, those who reported being bullied at work were 59% more likely to develop a cardiac-related illness. 

Despite the findings of this particular study, heart related issues are not thought to be a common consequence of workplace bullying.

The stress of workplace bullying is more likely to lead to trauma, obesity, high blood pressure or insomnia. 

If you’re being bullied at work and this is having a negative effect on your mental or physical wellbeing, it’s important that you reach out for help as soon as possible to mitigate the physical and mental effects on your body.

Who is Spencer Clarke Group? 

Since 2017, we've been changing the face of recruitment. From our employees, to the way we do business, to the culture within our office, we're determined to make a difference and create a positive impact on everyone around us.

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