The Impact Of Bullying At Work

The Impact Of Bullying At Work

If you have had to train people in avoiding and dealing with race discrimination, you will be aware of the devastating impact that bullying and harassment at work can have.

There are of course a huge range of physical and mental health issues that bullying can have on a person, such as increased anxiety, panic attacks, high blood pressure, depression, migraines, trouble sleeping and exacerbation of any pre-existing medical conditions.

While many managers may learn of the impact of bullying when a worker is signed off work for the first time, there are however problems that can be caused at work before this happens due to the bullying.

For example, few workers will be able to perform their jobs to the best of their ability when they are facing bullying and harassment. This is very often due to the nature of the attacks which may be hyper critical feedback on the employee’s work.
Performance issues could include:

  • having trouble making decisions
  • loss of motivation
  • low concentration
  • high absenteeism
  • a loss of self-esteem.

Worker’s time could also be lost

  • being forced to redo work by the bully
  • trying to defend themselves
  • avoiding the bully
  • planning how to deal with the situation.

The long term impact to the company may be higher staff turnover and less loyalty to the company.

While you may be able to pin point these behaviours in the affected individuals, you may accidently overlook the impact that bullying and harassment in the workplace have on co-workers.

Though it is fairly rare for colleagues to try and protect an affected individual, scared that they may in turn become a target for harassment, colleague may be much more aware than you assume. This can lead co-workers to lose their loyalty to the company due to:

  • The presence of a bully
  • perceived lack of support available from the organisation
  • perceived lack of stability which could be causing the harassment situation.

It is important to watch out for these situations arising during restructures, particularly those where there may be redundancies, as tension in the workplace can cause harassment situations and loyalty to the organisation will be at an all-time low.

How you can respond to bullying

It is important to have guidelines in place to help managers and supervisors understand what constitutes bullying and harassment to avoid any doubt, and also provide employees with a structure to make complaints if necessary.
To avoid costly employee compensation claims it is important that these guidelines fit in with the UK law which outlines the definition of bullying and harassment in the workplace and how it needs to be dealt with. You can read more on the Gov.uk website.

You need to make sure that all possible stakeholders have access to these guidelines, whether they are trade union representatives, human resources departments, and employees themselves. It should be clear how people can get hold of a copy and you should consider remind employees of its presence in any internal communications.

There are also guidelines provided by both Citizen’s Advice and ACAS

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