What is workplace bullying?
Bullying in the workforce is defined as repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker that created a risk to health and safety. This definition is inclusive of acts of verbal abuse and humiliation, social isolation, withholding information and spreading rumours.
It is an unfortunate reality that young people are most likely to be the target of bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace. Half of all Australian employee’s experience workplace bullying and an overwhelming 40% of these employees are subjected to bullying in the first few years of the career.
Effects of workplace bullying?
The effects of workplace bullying do not end when the victim leaves the office.
Being a victim of bullying can cause physical and psychological health problems, including:
- Panic attacks
- Trouble sleeping
Bullying also effects a victim’s ability to perform their jobs to the best of their ability. Performance issues include
- Having trouble making decisions
- An incapacity to work or concentrate
- Lower productivity
– in 2010, the Productivity Commission found that bullying at work costs Australian organisations between $6 billion and $26 billion a year in lost productivity
- Loss of self-esteem
- Erosion of employee loyalty and commitment
- Increased use of sick leave, health care claims and staff turnover
How to combat bullying in the workplace?
If you are an employer, it is always best to confront workplace bullying and maintain a bullying-free workplace. You have a legal responsibility under Occupational Health and Safety and anti-discrimination laws to provide a safe workplace for your employees. Employers should offer education opportunities for all employees that are aimed at fostering a positive workplace environment.
If you are a victim of workplace bullying, the first step is to recognise that you do NOT have to suffer. Find your voice and speak up. Everyone has a right to work free of bullying and harassment. There are also the following steps you can take if you are experiencing bullying in the workplace
- Check your workplace’s bullying policies and complaints procedure.
- Document the behaviour, diarising incidents.
- Talk to someone you trust.
- Talk to the bully if you feel physically safe and confident enough
- If the bullying continues, follow the workplace complaints procedure for making a complaint.
- It is also a good time to check your own physical and mental health as workplace bullying can seriously harm mental health with depression, psychological distress and emotional exhaustion.
- If you have made a complaint at work and no adequate steps have been taken to stop the bullying from occurring, you should contact the Fair Work Commission or the Commonwealth Fairwork Ombudsman. If the bullying is violent or threatening, it may be a criminal offence and you should contact the police.
There are also several services available to people who are feeling depressed, stressed or anxious as a result of bullying behaviour. They include;
If you have any queries in relation to the issues raised in this article, please do not hesitate to contact us on (02) 8999 9837, or fill out the enquiry box and we will get back to you ASAP.