Countering bullies in the workplace

 

 

According to Dr Gillian Mooney, teaching and learning manager at The Independent Institute of Education, bullying is not limited to the playground but can also be found in the workplace, which severely damages careers every year and victims should not accept this behaviour from colleagues but rather incorporate various counter-steps.

“Workplace bullying is the consistent and repeated mistreatment of one employee by another,” said Mooney. She also explained that workplace bullying affects teams, divisions and the company as a whole. She added that bullying can heighten stress levels, lead to poor concentration, breakdowns, depression, compromised memory and even post-traumatic stress syndrome.

“[Victims] may suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome, lowered resistance to colds and flu, high blood pressure, migraines, hormonal disturbances, thyroid problems, skin irritations, stomach ulcers and substance abuse,” she added. Toxic team members are also said to decrease productivity levels and organisational health, due to increased absenteeism and staff turnover.

Read Video of King Edward VII School learners bullying incident goes viral

Mooney also suggested that more mishaps, bad service and decreased motivation are likely to occur. Workplace bullying also affects those who witness it. “A researcher in the UK, Dr Charlotte Rayner, found that almost a quarter of people who witness workplace bullying will search for new employment,” Mooney explained.

Legitimate and constructive criticism is a positive method to improve productivity but workplace bullies may demand unreasonable tasks, use verbal abuse such as cursing, shouting, gossiping and constant undermining of the target. “A workplace bully may use tactics such as intimidation, degradation, isolation and humiliation,” explained Mooney.

Mooney offers these steps for employees to address bullying in the workplace:

  • If you are unsure of the difference between constructive criticism and bullying, ask a co-worker you trust
  • Speak to a colleague who has been working with the organisation for a long time as he/she may have greater knowledge of the company’s policies and procedures
  • If you are falling victim to bullying and feel miserable about going to the office every day, address the matter as a priority
  • Keep a log of all incidents including dates, times and context. Thereafter, approach your manager or HR department with your concerns and evidence
  • If your attempts are unsuccessful, leaving the toxic environment is a legitimate course of action and should not be considered as running away. Before resigning, consult a lawyer with regards to your rights.

Read Say ‘NO’ to bullying

“The problem will not go away on its own, and you can’t spend your days, months and years tolerating the intolerable. Ultimately, it is not only your career that will suffer, but also your health, your well-being and even your family,” concluded Mooney.

Edited by Beryl Knipe

If you have fallen victim to workplace bullying, let us know what helpful steps you took to address the issue by emailing the Rosebank Killarney Gazette on rkg@caxton.co.za

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