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Do you have a workplace bully?

Do you have a workplace bully?

Workplace bullying – whether it’s between co-workers or manager and employee – can take many forms, including verbal, physical and psychological, and shouldn’t be tolerated. Here are some pointers on how to stay on top of bullying in the workplace and keep your employees safe and happy.

Recognise the signs

Bullying can occur in just about any type or size of work environment – whether it’s an office, a workshop, cafe or worksite. It can happen to all types of people both male and female, including volunteers, apprentices, work experience students, even managers. People can be targeted because of their age, sex, sexual orientation, disability, religion or other reasons.

It can also take on many forms. Hurtful remarks, intimidation, name-calling, physical assault and inappropriate physical contact are more obvious, but bullying can also come in more insidious forms. Examples might include assigning tasks that are pointless or impossible to accomplish, denying resources needed to complete a task, and psychological abuse such as social exclusion.

That said, don’t forget that it is the employer’s right to transfer, discipline, demote or retrench staff, as long as it’s on reasonable grounds. Developing a guide for your employees which covers what should and shouldn’t be defined as bullying, can be helpful here.

Take action

Once an employee is sure that the behaviour they’re witnessing comes under the category of bullying, ensure they don’t hesitate to report it to someone with the authority to take appropriate action. If they would prefer to stay anonymous – which can be a legitimate concern if there is fear of retaliation – assure them that this wish will be respected before they give names and details. Make sure your employees know the correct people to report bullying to, and that they feel safe in doing so.

Get to the heart of the problem

The perpetrators of bullying in the workplace are usually experiencing some conflict or turmoil in their own lives. These might be domestic problems such as a marriage breakdown; they might themselves come from a background of abuse; and in some cases, they could themselves be victims of bullying or excessive workplace pressure and are simply taking it out on their colleagues. An open, honest discussion between all affected parties can be the best way to uncover and address underlying issues.

All businesses have a moral and ethical responsibility to help create a happy, harmonious workplace. If you see bullying occurring, stamp it out straight away.

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