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Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace

bullying and harrassment

Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace

Unfortunately, bullying and harassment in the workplace is more common than we would like to admit. The terms are often used interchangeably, and many definitions include bullying as a form of harassment. It is often dismissed in the workplace as ‘banter’ between workmates but if the same employee is continuingly the butt of the jokes then this could be classified as bullying or harassment.

Bullying and harassment can take many forms in the workplace. There is a difference between the two: –

Harassment – is any unwanted conduct in the workplace that affects the dignity of men and women. It may be related to age, sex, race, disability, religion, sexual orientation, nationality or any personal characteristic of the individual, and may be persistent or an isolated incident.

Bullying may be characterised as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient.

Essentially it is unwelcome and/or unacceptable to the recipient employee.

The first step to combating bullying in the workplace is to recognise the behaviour. Not every employee will get along, which is okay, but if this escalates into mental, verbal or even physical abuse it must be stopped. Employees can often feel helpless in situations like these as they do not want to speak out or get anyone into trouble and that is why it is so important for managers to recognise the behaviour and nip it in the bud before it gets too serious.

To recognise the signs of bullying you should look out for the following things:

Isolation or exclusion of an employee; unnecessary, unconstructive criticism;  being humiliated; hearing untrue and callous rumours and delegating meaningless tasks to them.

Every employee has the right to be treated with dignity and respect at work and it can seriously affect an individual’s mental and physical health which can then affect their performance within their role.

Here are some steps that you should take to target workplace bullying:

Follow your company guidelines and procedures that have been set out to stop bullying in the workplace, if your company does not have these in place, seek professional HR advice.

Communicate, speak with both parties involved. Firstly, it is important to get an understanding of the impact of the actions. This will also then manage help you to manage any conversations you have with the alleged bully as in some cases they do not realise how their actions are affecting the other employee. Both conversations need to be held with tact to manage the situation and contain any potential repercussions.

If discussing the matter informally doesn’t work or you have established a much more serious situation then you need to consider a formal approach to manage the situation in line with your Company policies and procedures.

Be objective, the best outcome is to keep both members of staff working productively and civilly. This isn’t always possible, and consideration should be given to mediation or training.

If you are worried about bullying or harassment in your workplace, seek advice from our HR professionals today. Our aim is to deal with these situations quickly and efficiently to stop the issue escalating any further:

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