Harassment and bullying can happen in any workplace and the effects
can be far reaching. Beyond the individual, the harm can spread through an entire
workplace and to the bullied person's friends and family.
What it is and what it isn't
Conflict at work and bullying are very different. Co-workers don't always agree
or share the same opinions. And while conflict at work is normal, natural,
necessary and expected, it is not the same as bullying. Bullying and harassment
are forms of workplace violence.
In the workplace, bullying can include verbal aggression or yelling, spreading
malicious rumors, the calling of derogatory names, exclusion, humiliation
beyond feedback, establishing impossible deadlines, and undermining or
deliberately impeding a person's work. Bullying is a form of aggression where
the actions can be both obvious and subtle. Bullying can come in many forms and
is usually considered a pattern of behaviour which means that it is ongoing and
persistent. It is usually seen as acts or verbal comments that could mentally
hurt or isolate a person in the workplace. It is also described as the
assertion of power through aggression. Bullying does not, however, include
offering constructive feedback, guidance, or advice about work-related
Impact of bullying and harassment
The impact of bullying and harassment on a victim can be emotional, physical
and psychological and in turn, the workplace can lose the skills and assets
that people bring to their jobs and the workplace. People who are the targets
of bullying may experience a range of effects and reactions including shock,
anger, feelings of frustration or helplessness, loss of confidence, anxiety,
and various physical and psychosomatic symptoms.
The workplace can also suffer the effects of bullying in the form of increased
employee absenteeism, increased turnover, decreased productivity and
motivation, and poor customer service.
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety offers following general
tips for the workplace
- Encourage everyone at the workplace to treat one another in a respectful and
- Have a workplace policy in place that includes a reporting system.
- Treat all complaints seriously. Try to resolve situations before they get
serious or out of control.
- Educate everyone that bullying is a serious matter - what is considered
bullying, and whom they can go to for help.
- Train supervisors and managers in how to deal with complaints and potential
situations. Encourage them to address situations promptly and confidentially
whether or not a formal complaint has been filed.
- Have an impartial third party help with the resolution, if necessary.
AplusA-online.de - Source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety