Bullying - a common problem that has only been recognized in recent years - is
having a negative impact on individual employees and their organizations.
Fortunately, there are positive, proactive steps that can be taken by
management and employees to reduce the potential for or eliminate workplace
According to a July 2004 report by The European Foundation for the Improvement
of Living and Working Conditions on "Violence, bullying and harassment in the
workplace,” there has been an increase in reported incidents of bullying.
Twelve million people, representing nine percent of workers in Europe, say they
have been subject to bullying over a 12-month period in 2000. The foundation
and its partners see this as a serious concern.
What is bullying?
Bullying is a term often used to describe any aggressive misuse or abuse of
power. Not to be confused with mere differences of opinion or ordinary
conflicts, bullying comprises anything that a reasonable person would consider
as victimizing, humiliating, intimidating, undermining or threatening. It can
range from gossip and rumours to unwarranted punishment, and from obviously
offensive jokes to yelling or profanity.
The consequences are more costly to individuals and organizations than once
believed. The victims of bullying can experience stress, depression, reduced
self-esteem, self-blame, phobias, sleep disturbances, digestive and
musculoskeletal problems, or even post-traumatic stress disorder. The problem,
if not dealt with, may cause social isolation, family problems, and financial
problems due to absence or discharge from work. Bullying also affects the
organization, by increasing absenteeism and staff turnover, reducing
productivity, and overall upsetting the peace.
What can be done?
Organizations can help prevent workplace bullying by stating their commitment
to a healthy work culture in a written policy, with clear guidelines of what
behaviours are considered unacceptable; by developing an organizational culture
with standards and values against bullying; and by dealing with incidents
promptly, consistently and with authority.
If you think you are being bullied, discriminated against, victimized or
otherwise harassed at work, the advise is that you NOT retaliate, but firmly
tell the bully that the behaviour is unacceptable and must stop. Keep a factual
journal of events, including names and dates. Keep documentation (including
e-mails and memos) that shows the number, the frequency, and especially the
pattern of incidents. Report the bullying to your supervisor or the person in
your organization responsible for investigating and addressing incidents of
workplace bullying. If you feel your health is being affected, seek medical
assistance and/or make use of your company's Employee Assistance Program.
AplusA-online.de - Source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety