How to fight workplace bullying

Bullying affects up to one in ten employees. But intimidating behaviour, as displayed by presenters Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross, can go unnoticed. Here Steve Williams, head of equality services at employment expert Acas and offer some tips for banning bullying.

A poll from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) says workplace bullying costs £13.75 billion a year and often not enough is being done by UK employers.

Jo Causon from the CMI says the need to perform well in jobs ‘should not be seen as an excuse to bully’. She states the key to solving the problem is ‘strong but fair leadership’ which will help motivate staff and keep workplaces productive.

Related: Three in four Brits have witnessed bullying at work

Effects on companies and individuals

If unchecked, bullying and harassment can have serious repercussions. From a business point of view it can also be damaging, leading to increased levels of absence, reduced productivity, low staff morale and even employment tribunals. Not to mention the effect it has on people’s personal lives, wellbeing and morale.

Know the source

Employers should look out for early indicators of bullying before they develop into something more serious. However, it isn’t always easy to spot.

Here are the main indications of bullying at work:

  • Undermining a competent employee through work overload and constant criticism
  • Overbearing supervision
  • Blocking promotion or training opportunities
  • Imposing menial tasks
  • Refusing to delegate
  • Constantly changing targets or guidelines
  • Withholding information or supplying incorrect information
  • Interfering with post and other communications.

Have a procedure

The best thing a company can do is put a clear policy together which states that workplace bullying will not be tolerated. The policy should outline the steps that an employee can take if they feel that they are being subjected to bullying or harassment.

Employers should also set a good example through employee consultation and communication, maintaining fair policies and being supportive when a complaint of bullying is made. An organisational statement to all staff about the standards of behaviour expected can make it easier for all individuals to be fully aware of their responsibilities.

Seek a consultation

If you think you’re getting out of your depth, look for help. Organisations such as Acas can provide advice and guidance for best practice on preventing bullying and how to deal with it should it become an issue.

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