Have you always found yourself being ‘bullied’ at work? Sometimes it’s not them, it’s you

Countless articles and reports have been written about workplace bullying, bully bosses, the reasons behind it and how to deal with the situation.  The negative behavior of bad bosses often push employees to leave work and the negative environment behind.  However, there are employees who may have had the experience of having bad bosses in every organization that they joined in. In some cases, it may be because the employee had the unfortunate luck to encounter work place bullies.  In a few instances, it may because of the employee’s attitude.

According to Suzanne Lucas, an HR professional with 10 years working experience in corporate HR, there may be instances when the employee may need to take a look at themselves to find out why they keep on getting bad bosses or experiencing negative things at work.  Lucas suggests for these employees to take an introspective look at their work habits, attitudes and even skills.  One or some of these may be the reason why a few workers may have had a hard time at work or even became a target of a work place bully.

Often times, bullies tend to target individuals who don’t fight back or are easily intimidated.  If an employee who was bullied at work doesn’t learn how to stand up against the work place bully, then they may experience the same negative working environment even if they opt to leave and join a new organization.  There are certain traits that bullies are attracted to and if the bully victims don’t take steps to protect themselves, then the negative cycle is repeated once again.  While this isn’t the fault of the employees who were bullied at work, it would help if they learn some skills and techniques to help deal with workplace bullying.


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Employers should provide a safe workplace for employees and that includes addressing workplace bullying

The workplace serves as a second home to employees and should be a welcome place where people can express their creativity, do productive work and earn an honest living.  However, for some employees, it can be a place where they dread to work in but must still do so in order to support themselves or their families financially.  The reason behind may be because of a work place bully.

Workplace bullying has become prevalent in many organizations.  Employees who were bullied at work may have experienced verbal abuse, exclusion, being belittled in front of other employees or clients and other negative situations.  Regardless of the form of bullying, the employers are responsible in ensuring that they have the necessary policies and programs to help deal with workplace bullying.

Some businesses or organizations may not have their own anti-workplace bullying rules and may be relying on local or government ruling to cover such cases.   In Canada, most of the states have their own bullying legislation.  This helps to support bullied employees and protect other workers from experiencing the negative behaviors of work place bullies.  Still, it is important for business leaders and owners to have their own policies in place.

Ensuring that anti-bullying programs or policies are are enforced at work will benefit organizations in the long run, given that a positive working environment often yields highly productive employees.  Data from the Canada Safety Council shows that bully victims at the workplace lose 10 percent to 52 percent of work time from avoiding the bully, thinking of how to defend themselves from the bully, talking with co-workers to gain support and simply thinking about the workplace bullying situation.  Employers not addressing the issue may also find themselves subject of a legal action because of the work place bully.

The challenge to deal with bullies at work not only rests on the business leaders or human resources professionals.  Each employee also bears the responsibility of ensuring workplace bullying does not happen in the organization.


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Workplace bullying is an ever present reason why people leave their jobs

Many research and studies have pointed out how damaging workplace bullying is to the organization and the employees.  It not only affects productivity and company profits, it also impacts the bullying victim’s health.

Employees who experienced being bullied at work would sometimes opt to stay and try to cope with the negative working environment.  However, a few employees would rather leave the organization and the work place bully behind.  A research conducted by the National Anti-Bullying Centre at Dublin City University supported this and showed that nearly all of the cases filed with the Employment Appeals Tribunal involved workplace bullying.

In many of the cases taken under Dublin’s Unfair Dismissals Act, the complainants shared that they felt forced to quit their jobs because of the bully boss or colleague.  This is rather disheartening to learn, however, it is a stark reality that most employees face at the work.  Workplace bullying has become prevalent in many organizations and although many companies have adopted policies to address the issue, there are still instances when bullying happens.

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A workplace bullying victim’s advice to other bullied employees: ‘Learn to speak up, speak loud’

More and more victims of workplace bullying are coming out and sharing their stories.  Some even become advocates of anti-workplace bullying programs, while a few have maximized the wide reach of the internet to share words of wisdom to other victims.

An Australian employee who used to work in a bottle shop in Toowoomba mustered up enough courage to share his story in the Chronicle and also encouraged other people who experienced being bullied at work, to “speak up” and “speak loud.”  This was what he learned to do as he previously went through verbally abusive days, harassment, mob bullying and discrimination.

The bully victim also questioned the six month time frame in filing bullying claims in Australia, stating that the effect of workplace bullying doesn’t only last within that period.  It goes on well after the negative experience happened and something that may very well haunt the victim all throughout his or her life.

In the article, the workplace bullying victim stressed that other people who witnessed the work place bully or bullies behaving negatively should also take a stand and that people should not tolerate it.  The impassioned call for action is very timely given the rising number of workplace bullying.  Needless to say, the abusive behavior of bullies is also very damaging, not only to the victims but to the organization as well, as it will ultimately affect productivity and company profits.

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Workplace bullying is very costly but it doesn’t get noticed

We’ve often heard how workplace bullying can cost a company hundreds to thousands of dollars. However, despite its impact on an organization’s budget, the cases of employees being bullied at work sometimes remain unnoticed.

According to an Office Team research more than a quarter of HR managers say they think workplace bullying occurs at least somewhat often in their companies.  The Office Team study also indicated that one in three employees admit they had a work place bully in their organizations.  Employees who are bullied at work sometimes become distracted because of the negative working environment.  It affects their productivity and often leads to low morale.

Bert Alicea, a licensed psychologist as well as Vice President of EAP and work/life services at Health Advocate, said that a company can lose tens of thousands of dollars due to absenteeism, lost productivity, lost stress-related issues and other concerns brought about by workplace bullying.  Aside from these factors, having a bully in the workplace can also contribute to high turnover, which in turn, results to higher recruitment costs.  There is also a possibility of a company losing a key talent or high performer because of an office bully.

Having clear policies and zero tolerance for bullying and harassment are critical factors in ensuring that workplace bullying problems are properly addressed. Implementing workplace bullying prevention training programs for the employees and supervisors will also help to spread more awareness about the issue.

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Fight workplace bullying with education and a culture of accountability

The medical profession is one of the industries where workplace bullying is most prevalent.  From doctors, nurses and medical staff, instances where a healthcare professional is bullied at work is reportedly rampant.

Addressing bullying at work is a challenging and complex process.  According to experts, dealing with workplace bullying requires a multi-pronged approach which includes education and fostering a culture of accountability.  Workplace bullying is not only the responsibility of HR professionals, everybody in the organization has a part to play in ensuring that it does not happen at work.  Ensuring that bullying in the healthcare industry is dealt with is especially critical since it could ultimately affect the patients.

Employees who experience being bullied at work are less productive and become distracted given the negative working environment.  Medical professionals who become targets of a work place bully may not be able to properly attend to the patients or tasks that require their utmost concentration.  It is scary to think what damage could be done given the distracted attention of a medical staff.

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What are the best practices in dealing with work place bullies?

Workplace bullying is becoming prevalent in many organizations.  The abusive behavior is displayed not only by bully bosses, but employees can also experience it from co-workers.

A study conducted by Office Team indicated that 35 percent of the 600 employees and HR professionals they surveyed had a bully in the workplace.  Those that experienced being bullied at work would sometimes get confused on how to handle the situation.

Some victims would opt to confront the workplace bully.  However there are a few who chose to remain silent and learn to cope with the situation.  Unfortunately, being exposed to a negative working environment raises the stress levels of bullied employees.  The abusive working conditions can also push an employee to leave the organization.  The Office Team survey showed that 13 percent chose to quit their jobs because of workplace bullying.

So, how can an employee deal with workplace bullying?  Having an open discussion with the bully is one option.  Sometimes, the bullies are not aware that their negative behaviors made a huge impact on other people.  A key item also is for business owners to foster a positive culture at work and have zero tolerance for workplace bullying and harassment.

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Companies beware: Inappropriate comments on social media may constitute as workplace bullying

Let’s face it… today’s world is filled with high tech devices and gadgets, as well as programs or applications that can keep everybody connected to everyone else.  People use social media to let their followers know what they’re up to, their thoughts about a topic, situation or even another person.  It may be a blessing to be technically close to other people, but it also comes with some disadvantages especially to employees who became a victim of a work place bully.

A recent case brought forward by a bullied employee to the Fair Work Commission, cited an act of unfriending in Facebook by a colleague as one of the bullying behaviors which helped to support her plea.   The Commission found that the act constituted bullying given the circumstances surrounding the case.  This serves as a reminder to other organizations to ensure that they inform their employees, as well as the leaders, on appropriate online behavior when it comes to managing their private social media accounts.

Anna Casellas, a partner at Clayton Utz, said that inappropriate social media behavior has played an increasing factor in several bullying and dismissal cases in the past three years.  Such cases presented to labor courts or tribunals considered cyber bullying at work and off work as relevant instances to support unfair dismissal claims or workplace bullying cases. However, Casellas clarified that the recent bullying case brought forward to the Fair Work Commission should not be taken as a precedent, wherein an act of Facebook unfriending is considered in itself a form of bullying.  It is still important to view and understand other extenuating and mitigating factors surrounding the case, before inappropriate online comments or behaviors may be considered as evidence of bullying.

To read more about the rise of improper social media behaviors in workplace bullying cases, click here.

Here’s a Simple Principle on How to Tackle Being Bullied at Work

There’s this interesting article written by Elizabeth Cotton in The Conversation, where she listed down a simple principle, along with practical steps that a worker can follow in their battle against workplace bullying.  Cotton’s article is set against the backdrop of an endemic culture of bullying in the medical field, but the tips that she mentioned cuts across industries and generations.

One of the points that Cotton raised is that everyone has a hand in bullying.  It’s not only the work place bully or the victim who are involved, but other people who witnessed the abusive behavior contribute to the situation.  This reportedly includes politicians who would cut budget meant to launch programs to deal with bullying.  Whatever the role may be, Cotton said we all play a part in making bullying an established norm at work.

The article went on to describe how bullying works and some of the coping mechanisms that victims would typically follow such as withdrawal or joining forces with other people with the hope that it would afford some form of protection against the bullying.  What’s interesting is Cotton’s simple principle on how to deal with bullying at work.  Cotton wrote, “Tackling bullying requires sweating the small stuff and taking some small practical steps.”

It may sound simple, but it entails a lot of courage and conviction, especially for a bullying victim.  Still, the steps Cotton enumerated are things that can help to support the victim and help them regain a little bit of their humanity, while they contemplate the next big steps in dealing with work place bullies.

To learn about Elizabeth Cotton’s practical tips to deal with bullying, click here.