The Priti Patel story has highlighted allegations or workplace bullying at the highest level of our society. I am sure many people can relate to being at the receiving end of this damaging behaviour at work, and have stories to tell that would shock and distress us all. Research has shown that being bullied can result in stress related mental and physical ill-health. This blog intends to help you understand what bullying is and what can be done to reduce the likelihood of occurring in your workplace and the potential consequence should it occur.
The Institution of Safety and Health (IOSH) define bullying as: ‘Unfair, offensive, intimidating or insulting behaviour intended to undermine, humiliate or injure someone’. They go on to say that if a worker feels they are being singled out for unfair treatment by a boss or colleague, they are probably being bullied. Here are five examples of workplace bullying behaviour
It is important to say that our reaction to bullying is subjective. Some people will be able to ‘give as good as they get’ and will deal with it that way. Some will report it so that it will be dealt with swiftly and some people will be greatly harmed by the bullying which may result in symptoms such as; anxiety, headaches, digestion problems, nausea, sleeplessness, loss of self-confidence, and even suicidal thoughts. It depends on the perception of the individual if they determine the bullying behaviour as a threat. If they do, then the natural biological ‘fight or flight’ response kicks in and certain hormones are released into the body to help the person deal with the threat. If the bullying behaviour is ongoing, this increases the risk of chronic stress which is potentially extremely harmful both physically or mentally if not addressed.
The law dictates that it is the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable the health, safety and welfare at work, of all of his employees. That includes eliminating or reducing the risk of workplace bullying. So, let’s see how that can be achieved.
Bullying is one of many hazards that has the potential to lead to work related stress. It is covered in the HSE Management Standards Guidance under the ‘support’ and ‘relationships’ headings. NPTNI offer an excellent IOSH Managing Safely Course, which includes crucial information on work related stress and how to manage it. Please feel free to ask for further information on the course, or our tailored Stress Awareness and Management course. In the meantime, I hope this helps you understand a little more about reducing bullying in the workplace.
© 2021 Nicola Penman. All rights reserved.