How to resolve workplace bullying

At work, everyone has the right to feeling supported and welcome in all workplaces.

Sometimes a person who is bullying may not be aware that they are actively bullying. The best thing to do is to provide feedback first. If the feedback is unresolved and the issue continues, raise your complaint further with management and make sure it is taken seriously.

What is workplace bullying?

  • verbal, physical, social or psychological abuse
  • can be by an employer, manager or a colleague
  • can happen anywhere – at work, after hours, online
  • happens in all organisations – small business and large corporations
  • can affect anyone – employees, contractors, students, volunteers

 

What are the signs of workplace bullying?

  • hurtful remarks, or making fun of other people
  • can be targeted (sexual orientation, gender identity, race, culture, sex, etc)
  • can be non-targeted (behaviours from one individual towards many others)
  • sexual harassment, unwelcome advances or sexually explicit comments
  • psychological harassment, playing pranks
  • playing pranks, throwing things, pushing, shoving, tripping, etc
  • attacks or threats with objects, knives, guns, clubs, etc
  • you are made to do humiliating things
  • are you being excluded from workplace activities at work or outside of work hours?
  • changing your work hours deliberately to make your life difficult
  • unrealistic or impossible tasks or deadlines with unreasonable resources or support
  • intimidating comments or making you feel undervalued

Why it’s important to resolve workplace bullying

Bullying affects everyone and can impact both employees and overall business productivity.

  • victims may be less confident and suffer lower performance
  • can cause stress, anxiety or depression
  • impacts sick leave and unplanned absences
  • can cause physical stress, problems sleeping and physical pain such as headaches

How to resolve bullying

  1. Remember, a bully usually has their own issues such as lack of self-confidence, insecurity, personal problems (e.g. family relationships, alcohol or drug abuse, etc) and consider that they are behaving poorly towards others simply to make themselves feel better – if you change your mindset and have compassion for the bully that they may not know any better, it may make your life easier and change your perception of the situation
  2. Check if your organisation has a policy or procedure for dealing with bullying
  3. Keep a diary or log of the behaviours and actions that are considered bullying
  4. Approach your direct manager face-to-face and ask them to provide feedback first to the individual – raising a formal complaint immediately may unnecessarily escalate the situation – the bully may not be aware that their actions or behaviours are negatively impacting people (some people think they are playing ‘fun’ pranks, not knowing this impacts people)
  5. Follow-up any conversations with your manager by email and include a short summary of the behaviours and how this impacts you – this is important to keep a written paper-trail in case the bullying is not resolved and things escalate further
  6. If the behaviour continues, write a formal letter to your manager to highlight the seriousness of the issue
  7. If the behaviours continue, you may be able to contact an independent support service, government organisation or whistleblower service to get extra support

Example

To help you resolve workplace bullying, here’s a template that you can use to write a constructive email to your manager, so your feedback is formally documented, whilst giving the bully the opportunity to realise their actions are affecting people and make improvements.

Hi [Manager Name],

I wanted to send an email first, because I would like to meet with you to discuss something important.

I feel at times there are poor behaviours from a certain individual in our team towards myself and others and unfortunately it’s not helping foster an engaging work environment and is quite demotivating.

I’m really enjoying working here and I believe the person involved should be entitled to the opportunity for constructive feedback to help themselves grow and develop to create a better workplace for everybody.

I would like to discuss the specific behaviours face-to-face with you when you have time today or tomorrow – when is the best time to speak with you?

Thanks in advance,
[Your Name]

We are here to help

We are 100% committed to helping young professionals feel confident and getting the support they need.

If you are experiencing any issues at work that you can’t resolve or don’t have the confidence to resolve yourself, please feel free to contact us at anytime and we will help to provide you with as much guidance as possible.