Ever felt picked on or belittled at work? You’re not alone. More than 1 in 3 British workers believes they have been bullied at work, according to new research. This adds to the findings of a 2014 TUC health and safety survey:
- 37% of workers claim to have been bullied at work.
- Bullying and harassment is the number two health and safety concern at work, second only to stress.
- About a third of those affected felt they couldn’t do anything about it.
Are you being bullied?
Bullying at work is more likely to involve shouting, aggressive rudeness, malicious gossip and humilitiation in front of colleagues than actual physical assault. (Formal definitions of bullying here.) And these days, it’s just as likely to happen online as in person.
Whatever form it takes, the effects can be incredibly damaging. Bullying often causes workers stress, depression and anxiety, leading to time off work and poorer work-related performance.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady says: “[It] make them physically ill, lose all self-confidence and mean that they dread coming into work. No-one should be put in this position.
“Every organisation needs to have an anti-bullying policy, and every manager should ensure that there is zero-tolerance of bullying either by line managers or workmates.”
What can you do about it?
About a third of those affected said they did nothing about it, often because they were worried about losing their job, or hurting their career prospects. But we all have the right to work in a safe and comfortable environment.
- Tackle the bully directly
Taking on a bully can seem even more daunting than the bullying itself, particularly if it’s a manager. And it’s probably only going to work if you nip it in the bud at the very beginning. If you are still confident enough to go that route, read our advice on how to tackle a bully head-on.
- Report it to your employer
- Get expert advice and support
From your GP to helplines, there are plenty of people who you can turn to who can offer everything from an understanding ear, to practical support building a case and accompanying you through any formal grievance process.
- Talk to your union
Being a member of a union is how you ensure you are treated fairly at work, and could be your first and last line of defence against bullying. Your rep will know the correct procedures – both formal and informal – for dealing with these kinds of situation, what your rights are and what options are available to you. They may even be able to accompany you in a grievance hearing if matters have to be taken this far.
Remember, you don't have to suffer in silence. For more advice and information see our section on dealing with bullying at work.