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Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace

Updated: Jun 27, 2023



No one should ever have to endure bullying and harassment in the workplace, yet it happens far too often. This type of mistreatment can cause immense pain and distress for those who are on the receiving end. In addition, this will have a negative effect on morale and productivity among co-workers.


It is important that you take steps to ensure that your employees feel safe at work and understand what inappropriate behaviour is. To take you on this topic, we will look at some of the main types of bullying and harassment found in workplaces. Also, how it can affect employees, and what you, as an employer, should do to prevent it.


Types of Bullying and Harassment Found in Workplaces


Bullying and harassment in the workplace can take many forms. It is important to identify what kinds of bullying and harassment are found in workplaces before looking into ways to prevent it. Common types of workplace bullying include verbal abuse and physical intimidation. It also includes emotional manipulation and sexual harassment. Below is the specific list of different types of bullying and harassment found in the workplace:

  • Curse or swear at someone

  • Ignore someone or someone's opinions.

  • Criticise someone

  • Blame someone for nothing.

  • Different ways to treat different people

  • Isolate someone socially

  • Pick someone to play practical jokes on

  • Humiliate someone

  • Makeup stories about someone

  • Yell at somebody

  • Tell someone they need to stop.

  • Keeping a close eye on someone.

  • Sending sexually explicit or suggestive emails or texts.

  • Putting up posters or screensavers that are racist or sexually explicit.

  • Insulting or teasing someone about their disability.

  • Asking invasive questions about someone's personal life, including their sex life.


How Bullying Can Affect Workplace Environment


As you know, bullying can have a devastating effect on the person who is being bullied. It can also create an atmosphere of fear, mistrust and unease in the workplace. People may become reluctant to voice their opinions or even take part in conversations with colleagues out of fear that they will be ridiculed or humiliated. It can lead to decreased morale, productivity and overall workplace harmony. Here are some possible consequences of bullying in the workplace:

  • Not be as busy or successful

  • Be less sure about your work.

  • Feel scared, anxious, stressed, sad or even have mental health problems.

  • Have your life outside of work, like school or relationships, change.

  • Avoid going to work.

  • Feel like you can't trust your boss or the people you work with

  • Lack of confidence in yourself and happiness about your work

  • Have headaches, backaches, and trouble sleeping because of stress


How to Recognize and Report, Prevent Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace


As you know now, bullying and harassment in the workplace can take many forms and affect both the victim and the workplace environment. It is important to recognize these behaviours and take steps to prevent them from happening. In order for this to be prevented, it is essential that you have clear policies in place that outline what is inappropriate behaviour, as well as procedures for reporting such bullying behaviour. Employees should also be aware of these policies and should take it upon themselves to report any harassment that they see or experience.


It is important to first understand what constitutes these unreasonable behaviours. Bullying covered in the workplace may include repeated verbal or physical abuse. It also includes threats, intimidation and exclusion from activities or conversations. Harassment may be more subtle but can still be damaging, and it includes unwelcome comments about a person's gender, race, religion, age or sexuality, as well as offensive jokes and innuendos.


It is important to remember that anyone can be a victim of this, regardless of rank or position in the company. If you believe you are being bullied or harassed at work, it's important to speak up. You should report bullying incidents immediately to the human resources department. Depending on the severity of the incident, it may be necessary to report it to the police or other external bodies.


If you are in charge of dealing with these complaints, you must have clear policies and procedures in place for reporting incidents. This will help ensure a safe and secure working environment for everyone. It can be done by creating a culture of respect and positive reinforcement. Encourage employees to speak up if they witness bullying or harassment. Also, make sure that any complaints are taken seriously and addressed promptly.


Creating an Inclusive Working Environment for All Employees


Some other company policies and procedures can contribute to poor organisational culture. It leads to bullying and harassment in the workplace. Having an inclusive working environment is essential for both employee well-being and productivity.


Here are some steps for you to take to ensure that all employees feel safe, respected and supported in their work:


Promote Respectful Communication


It's important to ensure that everyone in the workplace understands how to communicate with others. It includes speaking respectfully and not making derogatory remarks or jokes about colleagues. You should have anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies in place. This way, employees can clearly understand what behaviours are unacceptable.


Educate Employees About Anti Discrimination Laws


It's important for employees to be aware of anti-discrimination laws and to treat everyone equally regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or any other protected characteristics. Employees should also be encouraged to report any instances of bullying or harassment they observe. Also, you must act quickly when complaints are made.


Encourage Open Dialogue


Organisations should strive to create a culture where open dialogue is encouraged. This could involve regular team meetings or employee focus groups. It can allow everyone in the workplace to share their ideas and provide a safe space to discuss individual or interpersonal issues.


Create a Health and Safety Representative


Having a Health and Safety representative in the workplace can help to ensure that any issues around bullying or harassment are addressed quickly and effectively. This could involve having a designated person responsible for monitoring the well-being of employees. This provides support when needed and intervening when necessary.


Get advice from a professional HR consultant


Final Words


Bullying and harassment in the workplace are unacceptable, unreasonable behaviour that can have serious consequences for both employers and employees. It's important to ensure a safe and secure work environment through company policies, open dialogue, education about anti-discrimination laws, and promoting respectful communication. If you believe you are being bullied or harassed at work, it's important to report it immediately. So consider the above steps to keep bullying and harassment out of your workplace. Good luck!




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