Workplace Bullying: Help Take up the Fight!

So luckily, I made a new connection on LinkedIn – Craig Kime. Craig has an on-going campaign against workplace bullying and has given me permission to republish his recent article on Workplace Bullying. Happy reading!

Often, workplace bullying causes an employee to quit their job, but the repercussions don’t always end there. Severe workplace bullying is a traumatic experience that can leave an employee feeling insecure, anxious, depressed and fearful of future jobs or other working conditions. If you or someone you know has been the victim of workplace bullying, and they don’t seem to be coping in their work or personal lives, they or you may be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. You have a duty of care to report and protect the victim, don’t turn a blind eye otherwise you are as bad as the criminal doing the bullying

Work Place Health & Safety will not and cannot work if you don’t have the commitment of the highest level within your workplace, saying that it will not work if you do not have the commitment of every one below the CEO. This also applies with bullying and any other criminal behaviour in our workplaces.

It’s time we get on top of this epidemic of unwarranted illegal behaviour and escalate this before more people that excel at their chosen profession leave in a state of emotional stress and fall into a state of serious depression and at worst take their own beautiful life’s. http://brodieslaw.org/  

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-12-03/teen-27happy-and-healthy27-before-workplace-bullying/5131698

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/partner-of-former-burpengary-state-school-deputy-principal-gavin-woods-tells-coroner8217s-inquest-that-workplace-bullying-contributed-to-his-death/story-fnihsrf2-1226683277202

What is Workplace Bullying?

Workplace Bullying is most often a subtle form of harassment – it is insidious (proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, but with very harmful effects), undermining and unrelenting. Workplace bullying can involve bullying behaviour which is verbal in nature, or it can be psychological, social or physical. Generally it is consistent and repeated, and involves an abuse of power. Workplace bullying is defined as repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety. Workplace bullying can include the following conduct:

  • intimidating remarks or glances,
  • belittling comments in front of other staff,
  • spreading gossip,
  • failing to include you on an important email or meeting,
  • failing to give accurate or important information to enable you to do your job properly,
  • asking you to do useless jobs that aren’t part of your job description
  • being excluded from social events at work,
  • being treated with disrespect or rudeness,
  • being otherwise side-lined,
  • being yelled at or spoken to aggressively,
  • ignoring your contributions
  • physical aggression or physical threats

A victim of Bullying may feel

  • distress, anxiety, panic attacks or sleep disturbance
  • physical illness, for example muscular tension, headaches and digestive problems
  • deteriorating relationships with colleagues, family and friends
  • Depression, thoughts of suicide, anger, lose of self esteem, lose of confidence, feeling unwelcomed or unwanted and emotionally charged.

I challenge you to think of more because I know there are many effects associated with Bullying.  Bullying is a form of abuse which carries tremendous health harm, said Gary Namie, a social psychologist who directs the Workplace Bullying Institute. That’s how you distinguish it from tough management or any of the other cutesy ways people use to diminish it. Referenced from http://www.livescience.com/17872-workplace-bullying-stress.html 

Bullying does not include

  • Occasional differences of opinion.
  • Non-aggressive conflicts.
  • Dissatisfaction or grievances with organisational and management practices.
  • Feeling upset or undervalued.
  • Managing under performance of employee and other actions in accordance with policies and procedures.
  • The employer has the right to delegate, monitor the flow, performance manage and provide feedback on work quality.
  • The employer is permitted to reprimand, transfer, demote, discipline, counsel, retrench or disestablish an employee as long as they are acting reasonably.
  • Reasonable management actions carried out in a fair way.
  • Setting performance goals and or management processes, enforcing standards, deadlines and providing feedback.
  • Informing an employee about unsatisfactory work performance or inappropriate behaviour, rostering and allocating working hours.
  • Occasional differences of opinion and non-aggressive conflicts and problems in working relationships.
  • Transferring an employee to another area with reason.
    Deciding not to select an employee for promotion with reason
  • Implementing organisational changes or downsizing.
  • Single instances of inappropriate behaviour is not bullying, however such behaviour should be treated with caution and reported as it could escalate.

 Bullying and health

There is a direct negative relationship between workplace bullying and health. Workers who indicated that they had been bullied reported poorer health, and breaking that down even further, the severity of the perceived impact of the bullying was significantly connected to poorer health. So I ask why isn’t there a nationwide campaign on bullying in the workplace so we can send out the message that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated. We need to escalate this as a matter of urgency and without any delay.

Campaigns

The majority of anti bulling campaigns I have found are for school children I welcome that as each and every one of knows if we target those at a young age then we can actually reduce the number going forward, but I strongly believe that we need to target Workplace Bullying (Adults). I googled this in the hope of finding a national campaign on workplace bullying and found nothing but information on the topic, no real get out there educational campaigns so I typed in the same but left out workplace and found what’s listed below.

Workplace bullying can impact on a person from creating mild annoyance through to severe psychological, social and economic trauma. Previous research has indicated impacts such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, decreased self-confidence, panic attacks, fatigue, eating disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, and suicidal thoughts and eventually carrying it out.  Materials are available free of charge, and most can be accessed through the www.stopbullying.gov website. As I said excellent informational web sites for parents and school children, but no national campaigns on workplace bullying and harassment, just other types of documents on the subject.

Incident reporting

Everyone needs to be aware of reporting bullying and harassment along with other issues the modern workplace faces, like sexual harassment and occupational violence. Incident reporting must be a mandatory training session in all workplaces throughout Australia. It is important to say if you don’t report such behaviour when you witness it happening then you are failing your duty of care under the Workplace Health and Safety act 2011, and that makes you no different to the criminal doing the bullying.

WHS training

In my opinion WHS training must be compulsory and tracked with all businesses that have more than X amount of employees, this should be debated. My believe is it should be employers that have 1 or more employees.

 Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011

Part 3.2 General workplace management covers work health and safety requirements in relation to:

Training, information and instruction

Division 1 Information, training and instruction

Provision of training, information and instruction

Regulation 39

Sub-regulation 39(2) prescribes the requirement for a PCBU to ensure that information, training and instruction provided to a worker is suitable and adequate having regard to:

  • the nature of the work carried out by the worker,
  • the nature of the risks associated with the work at the time the information, training or instruction is provided, and control measures implemented.

Escalate

My point of view is that workplace bullying should be a mandatory training subject in all workplaces throughout Australia as well sexual harassment and occupational violence. Governments should take a proactive and unrelenting approach to this unwarranted behaviour that is costing the lives and jobs of so many honest, hard working and innocent employees. And yes it costs Government millions of dollars in lost time some studies say billions of dollars, as is outlined below.

Bullying ‘costs employers millions’

The SWA report found depression cost Australian employers about $8bn a year because of sickness absence, of which $693m was due to job strain and bullying. It said workers who showed mild symptoms of depression took twice as many sick days as those who showed no symptoms. Academics predicted stress-related illnesses, such as depression and cardiovascular disease, would be the leading causes of the global disease burden by 2020.

Source: Occupational Health News, 5 February 2013.

What can I do if I’m being bullied?

Put your health before anything else

  • However strong your personality, no one is immune from mental health problems. Unexpressed anger and fear can lead to depression in normal people. Take evasive action before it gets that bad.
  • Be aware of and monitor your stress levels. Try not to allow your stress to get so serious that you become bogged down with it, mindful that it is difficult to recognise the extent of the problem yourself. Ask family, friends and doctor to help as appropriate. If you have an HR Department see you HR manager.
  • Avoid having one-to-one meetings with the bully if you have already complained about the bullying

Document everything

  • Maintain contemporaneous notes of what you said and did, and what others said and did
  • Keep memos, emails and other documents that are evidential of bullying
  • Especially if you get bullied in private, consider using a pocket voice recorder (Smartphone) to obtain a verbal transcript depending what state your in.

In Queensland it is lawful to record a conversation without the knowledge of other parties provided the person making the recording is a party to the conversation. Therefore A can record a conversation between A, B and C but cannot record the private conversation between B and C when A is not a party to the private conversation. In N.S.W it is not lawful to record a conversation without the other parties permission . Please view your state or country’s laws before doing this.

 Think and operate strategically

  • Remember there are things in life you can control, things you can influence, and things you cannot do anything about. Ultimately, the only thing you can control is you. Attempting to persuade your employer to act responsibly can be pointless and thus painful, but it is in your interests to try not to fret about it if it does not work. Focus your attention on what you can do and are doing.
  • There is a risk that any mistakes you make as a result of being bullied, any sickness absence, and any illness will be used by a bully to discredit you. Most of what a bully throws at you is designed to provoke a response that can be used against you like making you swear at them.
  • Understand this and avoid responding directly to such provocations
  • Always act reasonably and in doing so, a contrast will emerge between your behaviour and the bully’s
  • Accept that this probably is not enough to make it stop and in most cases it will not
  • Remember that there is more to you than your job, and try not to take it too seriously
  • Remember that once you decide to resist the bullying, you may be in for the long haul, for me it was a weight of my shoulders and worth the fight.

Seek but do not depend on support from other managers or trade union.

  • If they give tell-tale signs that they do not believe you or do not support you, do not keep hoping that they will support you. I was lucky my HR Department is second to no one and was supportive and understanding.
  • Seek independent support from neutral third parties if you can
  • Get some help, but think about the interests and personal agendas of the people you hope to trust although this could be difficult if you have moved to a new area but it is very important to find a network of trust for me it was HR.
  • Consider who is or might be facilitating and condoning the bullying, and avoid confiding in them, try and know who they are close to and avoid them or just talk to them on issues not relating to your personal issues.

Equip yourself with your employer’s policies and procedures, and make sure that YOU follow them, and encourage others to do the same

  • Be 100% fair and reasonable, even when standing your ground
  • Always maintain your dignity and be polite, even in the face of rudeness
  • If you can, have a trusted companion with you as a witness in any meeting to discuss bullying. If you don’t have a companion you can trust, make sure you have an audio recorder, sometimes this is easier said than done but it’s worth a try.
  • Remember that everything you write, say and do might one day be discussed in a court or tribunal, so make sure your actions are beyond reproach and justifiable. Don’t do or say anything that you would not wish to repeat in public.

But remember to put your health and wellbeing before any other consideration.

Please look at the Links, web sites and resources for dealing with workplace bullying in Australia and New Zealand (below)

http://bullyonline.org/workbully/oz.

Related posts:

Business demands keep bullying out of discrim law

Chronic disease costing economy

Bullying rife, whether true or false

CSIRO attacked for bullying culture

Upwards’ bullying damages bottom line

Read the full article here

About Craig: Everyday, Craig Kime posts something related to workplace bullying to create awareness or at the very least a discussion on workplace bullying. Craig is passionate about ridding this problem (workplace bullying) and getting people from all levels to open their eyes and start doing something constructive. Under Skills & Endorsements on Craig’s LinkedIn page please endorse his campaign against Workplace Bullying. He has never asked to be endorsed but he is asking on this to please help to take up the fight.

Need help introducing a policy on workplace bullying? Use this checklistDo you need help and/or advice on workplace bullying issues at your workplace, then send an e-mail to WHS.help@comcare.gov.au. It is an Australian help email/site but still try it out – the aim of Health, Safety and Wellbeing is the same everywhere so I believe you will find them useful.

Have experiences or comments you are willing to share? Then please do.

#BeHSEWise