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Spring 2016 Edition

How To Stop Workplace Bullying

Workplace bullying can be a serious problem. If you are presently concerned about a bullying situation at work, the information below can help you determine a plan of action.

What is workplace bullying?

Workplace bullying is the deliberate, repeated mistreatment of a targeted employee, conducted by one or more persons at the place of work and/or during the course of employment, which creates a risk to the targets’ physical and psychological health and threatens the targets’ job security.

Workplace bullying is best understood through the bully’s behaviors:

  • Deliberate actions to humiliate, intimidate, undermine or destroy the targeted individual
  • The withholding of resources (time, supplies, support, equipment) necessary for the targeted individual to succeed

While some workplace bullying may involve verbal abuse and physical violence, bullying can also be subtle intimidation with inappropriate comments about personal appearance, constant criticisms, isolation of employees from others, and unrealistic, embarrassing or degrading work demands.

Top 10 workplace bullying behaviors

  1. Constant blame for “errors”
  2. Unreasonable job demands
  3. Criticism of ability
  4. Inconsistent compliance with the rules
  5. Threats of job loss
  6. Insults and put downs
  7. Discounting or denial of accomplishments
  8. Exclusion, “icing out”
  9. Yelling, screaming
  10. Stealing credit
Source: The Bully At Work, by Gary Namie, Ph.D. and Ruth Namie, Ph.D., Sourcebooks, Inc.

Impact on the targets’ health

Each individual will react differently to bullying behavior. It is likely, though, that employees who are bullied will experience some of the following effects:

  • Stress, anxiety, sleep disturbance
  • Ill health, headaches, heart palpitations, or fatigue
  • Panic attacks or impaired ability to make decisions
  • Incapacity to work, concentration problems, loss of self-confidence and reduced performance at work
  • Depression or sense of isolation
  • Deteriorating relationships with family, friends or co-workers

What can you do about it?

Workplace bullying can be stopped. If you are being bullied, call your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and speak with an EAP counselor. Your EAP counselor can help you develop a plan for dealing with a bully at work, support you throughout the process of resolving the problem, and also help you deal with the effects of bullying.

If you are being bullied, you can take action informally or follow formal procedures. Informal action is recommended as a first approach. Some of the actions your EAP counselor may suggest include:

Seek advice - Seek advice from your grievance officer, safety and health representative, human resources officer or union official. You should not make allegations about bullying behavior or harassment to people who are not involved in the handling of complaints in your workplace.

Keep a record - Make a detailed record of what happened – place, date, time, persons and what was said or done. Ensure that your records are accurate. This information may be useful later, particularly if more formal steps need to be taken.

Approach the bully - If any form of bullying happens to you, make it clear to the bully as soon as possible that the behavior is unwanted and unacceptable, and you won’t tolerate it.

If you choose to deal with a situation personally:

  • Do not retaliate or try to get even. Discuss your intended approach with a grievance officer first. Consider what will be said to the bully. Focus on the unwanted behavior, rather than on the person.
  • Make a note containing the facts about the approach, the outcome and any follow-up.

If you do not feel comfortable approaching the bully yourself, ask someone else, such as a grievance officer or supervisor, to approach the bully on your behalf, or to mediate or facilitate face-to-face discussions to find an acceptable resolution.

Use more formal procedures - You may wish to lodge a formal written complaint if informal approaches are unsuccessful, or if the allegations are so serious that other approaches are inappropriate.

Your EAP is here to help

Remember, your EAP is always available to help you or your dependents with any personal, family or work-related concern. If you need help with a problem at work, call an EAP counselor for FREE and CONFIDENTIAL assistance. Why not call today? We’re here to help.


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Disclaimer: This newsletter is not intended to provide medical advice on personal wellness matters. Please consult your physician for medical advice.