By Donna Obstfeld @ dohr
It’s National Anti-Bullying Week, and shockingly, Acas have reported that over the past year they received around 20,000 calls about harassment and bullying at work. It seems that workplace bullying is a growing problem in Britain and many people are simply too afraid to speak up about it.
Bullying is defined as any unwanted behaviour that makes someone feel intimidated, degraded, humiliated or offended. It’s not necessarily always apparent to others, and may be happening in the workplace without your awareness.
People don’t always feel confident enough to complain, particularly if the harasser is a manager or senior member of staff. Sometimes, they’ll quite simply resign.
It’s therefore very important for employers to ensure that staff are fully aware of the options available to them when it comes to bullying or harassment, and that these of course remain confidential.
These findings provide some real eye-opening truths on the current state of bullying in the workplace, and it’s vital that employers reflect on these results and have a good look at their working environment.
Start taking action today to ensure that your business is fully implementing anti-bullying policies and utilising managers with good people management skills.
Here are some recommendations for taking action:
- Promote training and awareness of bullying in the workplace (there are more incidences of bullying within minority ethnic groups; women in male-dominated workplaces; those with disabilities or long-term health problems; LGBT people; and those working in health care)
- All people managers to have mandatory training to deal with bullying and harassment (inexperienced employers feel they lack the skills to go through complex grievance and disciplinary procedures that bullying allegations may involve)
- Managers at every level to have objectives around ensuring harmony and inclusion in their teams (managers alerted to bullying allegations may favour simply moving staff around rather than investigating and dealing with underlying behaviours)
- Senior leaders to recognise that harassment and bullying exists and take action to erase it from the workplace
- Employers to review succession planning lists to ensure the inclusion of diverse talent from all walks of life
- Ensure appropriate policies and procedures are in place (barriers to people making complaints to do something about unwanted behaviour might make the situation worse)
You may not be aware of any bullying or harassment in your workplace, but according to these recent results, the chances are there may be something going on.
Bullying is the enemy of diversity and consequently, business performance and profits.
By not challenging unacceptable behaviour and not effectively implementing your Anti-Bullying Policy, you put your diverse culture at risk, and ultimately, your business itself.
You can make a difference.
Commit to speaking out.
If you witness behaviour that you consider to be bullying or harassment, take action. If you hear someone in the office use unacceptable language, challenge it.
Let’s prevent these numbers from rising any further, instead, we can take action and decrease them.