7 Signs you're being bullied at work, and how to stop it
While the majority of us tend to think of bullying as a juvenile issue that children and teens face during their schooling years, that could not be further from the reality. Despite being regarded in popular culture as a "playground issue", bullying runs rife in offices all across the UK. However, we don't often hear from victims on account of the shame and stigma that often surrounds claims of harassment in professional fields.
The Trades Union Congress has defined workplace bullying as "offensive, intimidating, malicious, insulting or humiliating behaviour, abuse of power or authority which attempts to undermine an individual or group of employees and which may cause them to suffer stress”. However, the National Bullying Hotline has stressed that in conjunction with such definitions, we must remember that workplace harassment is often incredibly complex in nature, and bullying can range from employers unfairly dismissing their employees through unorthodox lines of communication to managers making decisions without following company protocol.
In a recent study, the TUC uncovered that nearly a third of people have experienced bullying in the workplace, with women more likely to experience it than men. The age group most likely to be affected are 40-59 year olds (34 per cent, to be exact). And rather surprisingly, in 72 per cent of incidences, the bullying is carried out by a manager.
And to coincide with Anti-Bullying week which commences on the 13th November, we compiled a list of the tell-tale signs that you're being bullied at work, and how to tackle the disturbing phenomenon.
1. You're only ever criticised
If your boss only ever criticises you when you believe you're performing competently, or if they arbitrarily take away responsibilities and leave you to do trivial tasks, chances are that you're being bullied.
2. Your superiors or colleagues shout at you
Not only is this highly unprofessional, but it's a clear way to undermine and establish dominion over an employee.
3. Rumours are continually spread about you
While you can't expect there to be no office gossip, if you keep hearing that people are gossiping about you, and actively spreading malicious rumours, it may be time to get in contact with HR.
4. You never get promoted
If you're hitting all your targets and logging long hours at work, yet never get promoted, you may be on the receiving end of some bullying.
5. You're excluded from work activities and social events
If you find yourself chronically missing invites to go to the bar, or even to in-company events, you're most likely being victimised by your colleagues or manager.
6. Your manager sets you up to fail
When your manager continually overloads you with work or sets impossible deadlines, there's a good chance that they're doing it deliberately.
7. You're always the butt of the joke
Whilst it's good to have some office banter and humour in the office, when you find that you're the person that is repeatedly being singled out, it could mean that you're experiencing verbal harassment at work.
So what can you do if you believe that you're being bullied at work? According the mental health charity, Mind, you should endeavour to deal with the problem yourself first, by going directly to the source and explaining how their behaviour makes you feel.
If that doesn't work, you should start keeping a diary of the bullying, in which you record the times, dates and circumstances in which it occurs. As Christine Pratt, a spokesman from the National Bullying Helpline explains, "Your diary will constitute evidence at the end of the day and will help your employer investigate matters". Victims can then approach senior management and HR with the evidence to corroborate their claims.
The National Bullying Helpline also advise that victims of workplace harassment should join a union, and bring a union rep with them to any meetings regarding formal grievances.
As ever, claims of bullying in the workplace should be taken seriously as no one should feel uncomfortable or victimised in their place of work.