Workplace bullying can be quite common and difficult to deal with. Bullying at work can take the form of physical, social or psychological intimidation. Examples include threatening behaviour, sexual harassment, verbal abuse, exclusion, psychological harassment, being given pointless or impossible tasks, deliberately making work difficult for you and withholding information necessary to get your work done properly. This type of bullying can be difficult to identify as it isn’t always obvious, but it can have a serious effect on one over time. Workplace bullying can lead to a drop in productivity, lowered confidence and self-esteem, increased anxiety, stress and depression. It can also lead to physical symptoms such as tiredness, headaches and backache.
Workplace bullying can have a serious impact on family life and put stress on relationships. The target of the bullying may feel unable to share what is happening at work because they should feel grateful to have a job and may not want to worry a partner or spouse. It may put extraordinary pressure on the victim to the extent that they can take it out on others, even to the extent of engaging in abusive or aggressive behaviour at home. If you are experiencing workplace bullying it is vital that you seek some much needed support. This support may be from a Human Resource Manager, a supervisor or your employer. If the situation continues or is serious, you may need to make a written complaint. It can be very helpful to keep a diary documenting everything that happens, including what you’ve done to try stopping it. Make sure you are informed – find out what the organisation’s policies and procedures are for preventing and handling bullying. All employers have a duty to ensure the health and safety of their employees. Section 8 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 states that the employer is required to“prevent any improper conduct or behaviour likely to put the safety, health and welfare of employees at risk”. As employees, we are duty bound not to engage in behaviour that would endanger the health, safety and welfare of ourselves and others.
It is also wise to get external information and advice from bodies such as the union representing your industry, the Health and Safety Authority or the Equality Tribunal. These organisations work to ensure that workplace bullying in not tolerated and can give you advice on your options and your rights.
Next week we will look at cyberbullying and ways in which we can deal with it.
If you would like to speak to a counsellor, SouthWest Counselling Centre provides affordable professional counselling to children, adolescents adults and couples – both at its Killarney Centre (Lewis Road) and at Kenmare Family Centre. To make an appointment call 064 6636416; firstname.lastname@example.org. Other helpful websites include http://www.antibullyingireland.com and www.reachout.com
SouthWest Counselling Centre is a not-for-profit organization. All funds raised through fundraising go directly to service provision.