Whilst bullying is when a person or group acts unreasonably towards others, workplace bullying is specific to coworkers. The unreasonable behavior can be targeted at someone as part of discrimination towards their age, sex, religion or another defining factor, or may just be a random target. Methods of unreasonable behavior often refer to aggressive behaviours, humiliation, threatening, and constantly picking on an individual.
The Fair Work Commission supports that workplace bullying can be present even if the individual is a volunteer, work experience student, contractor or casual employee. Workplace bullying can happen in any workplace type, not just offices, and it is not only limited to the physical workplace building. Workplace bullying has especially become a problem online, particularly regarding social media and emailing.
Workplace Bullying, or any bullying type, will have serious effects on the individual, such as bringing on intense feelings of worry, depression and being scared. Psychological stress and emotional exhaustion is often an effect of workplace bullying, thus, it needs to be dealt with as soon as possible. The mental effects can start taking a toll on your actual work, particularly when demotivation occurs due to wanting to stay away from the workplace. When you feel less motivated and not confident in your working abilities, you may put your job at risk. Coming into the workplace feeling like you cannot trust your employer, or cannot get away from the bullies can ultimately undermine your happiness. It can even take a physical toll, such as stress headaches and sleeping problems.
Workplace bullying can look different in multiple scenarios, here are a few to give a general overview of what to look out for;
- Overtly making discriminatory remarks or excluding you based on race, culture, sex, background or another factor.
- Giving pointless tasks, ones with unachievable deadlines or inadequate resources to fulfill the task. This is often to set you up for failure, and not give you a fair working chance.
- Physically touching, shoving, grabbing or threatening with a weapon.
- Sexual remarks or touching which also be classified as harassment.
- Being made to do inappropriate or humiliating things in order to be initiated into a team.
What To Do If You Are Being Bullied
The most important thing to do if you are being bullied is to speak out. When people who are bullied hold everything in, it can affect their mental health dramatically, or cause an unwanted outburst.
Firstly, speak out in your organization, particularly by going to the Human Resources team. There is the possibility that if someone overhears it, they will also report it which will back up your claim. Whilst it may be unpleasant or embarrassing, this can be done in confidence and your workplace will typically have a process for filing a complaint. However, the dispute resolution process may take time, as there is usually an official warning, followed by secondary measures if the bullying continues. If there is no human resources team at your work, it is best to speak with a manager, or a boss up higher than you that has the power to give a warning.
Getting outside help may be best, especially when bullying starts to take a toll on your mental wellbeing. A trained professional, such as those at New Vision Psychology, will be able to talk through it with you, and perhaps make recommendations for dealing with the stress. Often, individuals who are being bullied in the workplace feel alone and distressed, so it is important to discuss any issues openly where there is no subjectivity to the workplace environment. They may also be able to provide evidence of distress if the case is taken up by a union or legal authorities.
Seek Legal Advice
You may be eligible to take action with The Fair Work Commission if you are still employed through lodging an application. Their role is to declare your eligibility, and connect individuals with lawyers if they do not have a union to represent them. There is also Safe Work NSW under the government that can be contacted for additional support for workplace bullying. These are more serious measures that create a longer process, however, they could be worth pursuing in some circumstances.
Overall, workplace bullying is not be tolerated, no matter where you work or what type of employee you are. Workplace bullying should be dealt with as early as possible to prevent it from increasing in severity, and an open workplace culture about the firm’s intolerance of bullying is essential to help combat the issue.