Article: About a third of employees face bullying at workplace – Here’s how to recognise & deal with it


About a third of employees face bullying at workplace – Here’s how to recognise & deal with it

Around 22% of nearly 75,000 workers in 121 countries have encountered violence or harassment in their workplace at least once.
About a third of employees face bullying at workplace – Here’s how to recognise & deal with it

Workplace bullying is a widespread global issue, as evidenced by studies from Asia demonstrating its prevalence across numerous countries. Governments and international organisations have implemented various measures to address and prevent workplace bullying and harassment, including legal regulations and non-regulatory approaches such as guidelines. However, despite these efforts, most countries lack specific legislation targeting workplace bullying and harassment, although many have laws addressing sexual harassment.

The survey further reveals that over 95% of respondents consider bullying and harassment at work to be significant concerns, followed closely by discrimination (92%) and physical violence (87.7%). Interestingly, respondents prioritise addressing physical violence as the highest priority (41.5%), followed by implementing policies to tackle bullying and harassment (32.3%) and discrimination (29.2%).

Before exploring potential solutions, it's crucial to acknowledge the various types of bullying prevalent in office environments.

  • Verbal abuse: Using derogatory language, insults, or belittling remarks towards a colleague.
  • Intimidation: Making threats, aggressive gestures, or using intimidating body language to instil fear in others.
  • Exclusion: Deliberately excluding someone from meetings, social activities, or work-related conversations.
  • Undermining work: Constantly criticising or undermining someone's work, skills, or contributions.
  • Sabotage: Intentionally sabotaging a colleague's work, projects, or opportunities for advancement.
  • Spreading rumours: Spreading false or malicious rumours about a colleague to damage their reputation or undermine their credibility.
  • Micromanagement: Excessively monitoring, controlling, or scrutinising someone's work to the point of harassment.
  • Cyberbullying: Sending threatening or harassing emails, messages, or social media posts to a colleague.
  • Withholding information: Deliberately withholding important information or resources needed for someone to perform their job effectively.
  • Physical intimidation: Physically intimidating or threatening behaviour, such as standing too close, invading personal space, or using physical force.

These are just a few examples, and workplace bullying can manifest in various forms and contexts. It's essential to recognise and address any behaviour that creates a hostile or intimidating work environment.

Here’s how

1. Changes in behaviour

For leaders and HR professionals, it's essential to remain vigilant for any observable shifts in behaviour among employees. These changes may include heightened anxiety, social withdrawal, or a decline in productivity, which could indicate that an individual is being subjected to bullying in the workplace.

2. Complaints or reports

Be attentive to any complaints or reports concerning bullying behaviour from employees. These may be conveyed through formal grievances lodged with HR, anonymous tips, or casual conversations with managers or coworkers.

3. Patterns of behaviour

Look for patterns of behaviour, such as repeated instances of an employee being singled out, targeted, or excluded from activities or conversations. Bullying often involves a pattern of repeated negative behaviour rather than isolated incidents.

4. Physical symptoms

Be aware of any physical symptoms that may indicate a person is being bullied, such as headaches, stomachaches, or changes in sleep patterns. These symptoms can be a result of stress or anxiety caused by bullying.

5. Isolation or exclusion

Notice if certain employees are consistently isolated or excluded from group activities, meetings, or social gatherings. This could be a sign that they are being intentionally marginalised or bullied by their colleagues.

6. Negative atmosphere

Pay attention to the overall atmosphere in the workplace. If there is a pervasive sense of tension, fear, or mistrust among employees, it may indicate that bullying behaviour is present and affecting the workplace culture.

7. Verbal and non-verbal cues

Observe interactions between employees for any signs of bullying, such as belittling comments, sarcasm, or aggressive body language. These verbal and non-verbal cues can indicate underlying bullying behaviour.

8. Employee feedback

Actively seek feedback from employees through surveys, focus groups, or one-on-one conversations. Ask specific questions about their experiences with workplace interactions and whether they have ever felt bullied or marginalised.

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Eradicating workplace harassment must be a priority

According to a survey conducted by the UN International Labour Organisation, the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, and Gallup, approximately 22% of nearly 75,000 employees across 121 countries disclosed experiencing at least one form of violence or harassment in the workplace.

Of those affected, one-third reported experiencing multiple forms of abuse, while 6.3% indicated facing all three types—physical, psychological, and sexual violence and harassment—during their careers.

Psychological violence and harassment were reported by 17.9% of both men and women, while physical violence and harassment were more commonly reported by men, with 8.5% of respondents experiencing such abuse in the workplace.

A majority of victims (over 60%) reported multiple occurrences of violence or harassment, with the last incident typically occurring within the past five years.

The report's authors emphasise the urgent need for more effective legislation, policies, and practices to prevent such incidents, highlighting the profound and costly effects of workplace violence and harassment, including severe physical and mental health consequences, lost earnings, and detrimental impacts on career trajectories and economic productivity.

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Topics: Culture, #PracticalTips, #HRTech, #HRCommunity

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