Is inappropriate, aggressive or rude behaviour affecting your work or peace of mind? Are desirable employees quitting your company due to bullying issues?

Contrary to popular belief, bullying is not restricted to schools and colleges. According to a research study conducted by University of Wollongong, Australia, at least 40% of Australian employees have experienced workplace bullying. This implies that at least half of the Australian working population has had to deal with workplace bullies at some point.

Unfortunately, workplace bullying is often a source of constant tension and worry and can derail peace and harmony in the workplace. Moreover, it may be challenging to ascertain if bullying is indeed happening in your workplace. Underlying bullying behaviour often includes rudeness, rumour-mongering, emotional, verbal or physical abuse among many other types. Other examples of workplace bullying may also include constantly changing work guidelines, demoralising employees or intimidation. Workplace bullying precipitates anxiety, stress, lack of confidence, lack of work performance and low self-esteem. In fact, workplace bullying can even lead to physical symptoms like headaches, stomach ache and insomnia.

The fact is that although there are guidelines available, there is no single comprehensive list that constitutes bullying behaviour. As a rule of thumb, bullying behaviour includes any physical, verbal or emotional act that forces an employee to feel singled out and oppressed. Since ‘workplace bullying’ is a tricky term to define, it’s often challenging to pin it down and bring perpetuators to book. However, in general, bullying usually includes persistent and malicious behaviours. According to OHSA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) laws, employers have a legal obligation to comply with guidelines and violations may result in punitive action or fines. OHSA rules stipulate that any employer who allows bullying to occur (even if he or she may be unaware of it) or ignores it is in contravention of Australia’s regulations.

According to the Australian Commission Report, bullying incidents at the workplace cost the Australian companies between 6 to 36 billion dollars on a yearly basis. Leaving the issue unaddressed leads to higher employee absenteeism and turnover while negatively impacting productivity at the same time. In addition, unchecked bullying may also leave the company more vulnerable to lawsuits as well as an impaired reputation. It often leads to poor customer experience (since employees are unable to perform at their best) and tarnished corporate image. It’s also helpful to bear in mind that bullying can happen in different types of workplaces including formal offices, cafes, warehouses, shops as well as government organisations.

It turns into a lose-lose situation for the employees as well as for the managers. For example, you may observe higher numbers of reliable employees quitting their jobs without managers being aware of the reason. It’s often very challenging to investigate complicated issues and arrive at the truth of the matter. In most cases, the victimised employees may not complain due to the fear of social or official repercussions. Alternatively, the employee may have tried to get his or her concerns addressed but the issue may be suppressed by immediate superiors. Thus, the problems persist and perpetuate themselves affecting office life and productivity on a daily basis. The affected employee may experience confusion or bewilderment and may not be able to articulate his or her distress (especially if the perpetrator is a superior).

At Emergency Support Network, we are happy to offer our expertise and training to resolve workplace bullying problems. We understand that employers may feel overwhelmed with a bullying problem and may be at a loss with regard to remedial action. You can rely on our experienced and discreet team to conduct training and fair investigations and recommend appropriate solutions.