Bullying, planting the seeds for change.

Following last week’s blog where we talked about banter and the impact it can have on organisations, this week we talk about bullying in the workplace. 

According to a YouGov Poll (for the TUC), 29% of people have been the victims of workplace bullying. That’s nearly 3 in every 10 workers and would equate to 9.1 million of the UK workforce. To put that into perspective, that is more than the populations of Scotland and Wales combined. Types of workplace bullying include: 

• Exclusion

• Unwelcome sexual advances

• Verbal insults 

• Rumour spreading

• Purposely preventing career advancement

• Threats in relation to job security

• Humiliation

• Being overly critical

Bullying behaviour can be subtle or overt and is very damaging. In its overt form it can be clear when it is taking place, things such as name calling, or isolating others are typically easier to spot and to therefore deal with. The more subtle forms however can be quite challenging to identify. Things like constantly undermining, setting others up to fail, and negative comments are less about one off event’s and more about the gradual build up over time making the person being bullied start to doubt themselves which can have a big impact on mental health and performance.

Businesses have a responsibility to eliminate bullying of any kind, there are several ways in which you can do this:

– be clear that you have a zero-tolerance approach to bullying within your organisation backed up with a clear policy. 

– ensure your organisations culture is open so your employees feel that they can report it safely 

– build a culture of two-way feedback; some bullying can be unintentional and when there is an opportunity for the person to feedback how something is impacting them this can be an early opportunity to stop it.

– focus on development; sometimes bullying can come from insecurities or power games with managers which manifests itself into bullying behaviours. Ensure your managers are trained and confident in their roles.

– eliminate ‘banter’, although it often starts out as good natured in most cases banter will over time edge toward more extreme behaviour and become bullying with individuals scared to speak out (see last week’s blog)

We talk a lot about bullying in training, particularly when we are developing managers to have the skills to create safe, supported and high performing teams. One of the videos we use as part of this is the Bullying a Plant video, you can watch this by clicking on the link below:

This is a powerful representation of the impact of negative talk from others and how the negative things we say to ourselves can impact us. How do you think an employee feels and performs if they are subjected to ongoing culture of bullying, how would you feel in your job with ongoing self-doubt and negative self-talk?

If you want to create an inclusive culture where people can bloom talk to us. 

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