Fighting back against the bullies
You cannot help but have noticed that the issue of workplace bullying has risen to the top of the agenda in recent weeks.
When Sir Philip Rutnam resigned his post as the top civil servant in the Home Office he spoke of a ‘vicious and orchestrated’ campaign against him – and also made a number of allegations about Home Secretary Priti Patel’s management style.
We can’t know the specific facts of the case, but if nothing else it illustrates that bullying can have an impact on anyone at work, regardless of the seniority of their position.
So, what should you do if you think you have been the victim of bullying?
The first thing, of course, is to identify what form the bullying takes.
The Equality Act 2010 defines bullying and harassment as behaviour that makes someone feel intimidated or offended. That could include an individual being singled out for unfair treatment, regularly being undermined by someone in authority or having their contribution ignored, being the victim of untrue or malicious gossip or being denied training or promotion opportunities.
It doesn’t have to be face-to-face behaviour either. A regular stream of intimidating emails, phone calls or text messages is just as unlawful as picking on someone in person.
Whatever form it takes, bullying can make turning up for work a truly miserable, demotivating experience. It can trigger mental and physical health issues and undermine home and family life at the same time.
The first step to confronting the problem is to recognise it. Then, try to talk to someone about it. If you let people know what is happening, you might discover that other colleagues are in the same predicament and in a position to help each other.
See how you might be able to handle the situation informally to begin with. A chat to HR, your union representative or a manager/supervisor might be a good starting point to raising the issue and exploring solutions.
At the same time, try not to let the behaviour effect your own work. Stay calm and polite and continue to do your best. It is worth raising your concerns with the person you feel is bullying you – either directly or through a colleague – to explain how their behaviour is affecting you.
And keep a diary or record of the offensive behaviour – stating when and where it happened – as well as any steps you take to raise the issue with colleagues and management. If you move on to a more formal complaint this will be invaluable in supporting your case.
Every workplace should have a grievance procedure and if you wish to raise the matter formally you must follow this. It’s a good idea to get some advice before you do – either from the company’s HR department, a union official or from an external expert.
Many cases will be resolved at this level if an informal approach has not sorted things out. But if you are still not satisfied you might wish to take the matter further – to an employment tribunal for example. At this stage, professional advice from an HR or legal expert is absolutely essential.
Here at HR Solutions Shropshire we have a track record of helping workers suffering harassment and bullying at work. If you would like us to help you, click the button for a free consultation to get things moving. We can talk you through your own particular situation and offer advice to help put things right, with no obligation or hard sell.