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Bullying in the workplace- support for employees.

We are all familiar with stories of bullying between school children which resulted in tragic events. Indeed, my own son lost a friend at high school. Felix Alexander was just 17 years old when he stepped in front of a train following years of abuse at first on the playground and later online. In an open letter to his bullies his mother spoke of how her son’s confidence and self-esteem had been eroded over a long period of time.

But bullying doesn’t always stop when we leave the playground, it can carry on into adult life and for some of us that includes the workplace.

Bullying and harassment is behaviour that makes someone feel intimidated or offended. Bullying isn’t against the law bur harassment is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.. For more information and more detailed definitions of bullying , harassment, discrimination and victimisation please follow this links

Bullying at work can make us feel very unhappy, it can lower our self-esteem and make us feel depressed and even physically unwell. Sometimes we may need to take time off because of it. It can affect our motivation and performance which in turn can create more problems. So how do we recognise when we are being bullied and what can we do to stop it?

The NHS has some guidance The most important thing here is to tell someone. Do not be ashamed or embarrassed about what is happening to you. By sharing your experience it may also help someone else.

Working with people experiencing bullying we have learnt that if you are a victim of bullying you often think you are the only one. Bullying gives us feelings of isolation and disempowerment. In speaking out you might find others who have been suffering in silence or managers who are keen to eradicate this sort of behaviour

Talk to a line manager or supervisor about what is happening, sometimes the bully may be someone in these positions so you could also talk to a union rep or your HR department if you have one.

You may consider speaking to the bully and explain how their behaviour is making you feel, they may not realise. Remain calm and be polite.

Keep a record of what has happened and what has been said. This will help you when you are describing events to a manager or if you decide to make a formal complaint.

If informal steps do not resolve the situation you should then follow your employers grievance procedure. This may involve having a mediated conversation or a full mediation with a 3rd party present.

If all else fails you may consider taking legal action, if you find yourself at this point it is recommended that you take appropriate legal advice.

Your manager has a duty of care to look after the wellbeing of their employees, do not be afraid to speak out if something is happening within your organisation which is to the detriment of your mental health.

Remember bullying can happen between colleagues, manager to team member and the other way round. It can take many forms and everyone will be affected in different ways dependant on the level, type of bullying and your own personal experiences. Bullying and harassment on any level is not ok!

People at Work are here to help where we can please contact us

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