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How can bullying affect you in the workplace?

by Laura Hayward | 21 November 2014

This week is National Anti Bullying Week, a week aimed at raising awareness on the affects of bullying and also highlighting organisations out there ready to help. The campaign is headed up by the Anti Bullying Alliance, whose mission statement this year is to: 

1. Stop the bullying of disabled children and those with special educations needs. 

2. Educate those who support and work with children to recognise childcare and young   people who are vulnerable. 

3. Ensure the school and wider community understand that the use of any discriminatory language is wrong. 

This is the 11th year the week has been recognised nationally, and is there to raise awareness in schools and throughout the UK, highlighting ways to prevent bullying in the first instance, and how to respond when it does occur. 

I think that the difference over the last decade is that there is a larger scope and a multitude of platforms for bullies to operate through - not only this, but it can happen anywhere, school, the workplace and amongst peer groups. Perhaps most current is the increase of cyber bullying and trolling. Every day there are stories on the news about those being bullied online, either via Twitter, Facebook or other social media platforms and the devastating impact this can have. 

Within the workplace, a study conducted by Monster two years ago found that Britons are amongst the most bullied workers globally, with 70% in the study stating that they had been bullied by a colleague or senior member of staff. I think there is a need for greater understanding of what constitutes workplace bullying. Softer skills are more greatly valued in work place now than in the past.  This means that the way we communicate, discipline and provide feedback differ greatly in modern work places, to those of even 30 years ago. As such, it's important to understand what is acceptable and what isn't. 

 The Government highlights the below as forms of bullying: 

•    Spreading malicious rumours  
•    Unfair treatment  
•    Picking on someone  
•    Regularly undermining a competent worker 
•    Denying someone's training or promotion opportunities 

These are just some of the ways that bullying can take place, and what else is important is to understand the impact that this can have on colleague, a team or an entire company. 
The 'best case' scenario is that it can make for an unpleasant atmosphere at work, one which isn't conducive to getting the best out of a team. At its worst, bullying can lead to a person losing all confidence in their abilities and in their company, resulting in stress and time off, potentially resulting in the termination of a contract and the company facing a case of unfair dismissal. 
It's because of this downward spiral that it is in everyone's best interest to understand what bullying at work is, the impact it has on the individuals involved and the wider business. We can then look to prevent this culture wherever possible. 

If this is happening to you, or to someone you know, it is important to act. Get in contact with the relevant person such as your manager, or a member of your HR department, and start talking about it, to your partner, your colleagues or your friends. If you are feeling vulnerable, the chances are you aren't alone, and with perseverance you can get through it. 

For further information about bullying in the workplace visit the gov.uk website