In my last two posts I took at look at workplace bullying, what exactly is bullying, how to spot a bully within your company/team, the impact of bullying and how to spot the 'bully' within you. In this final post I'm going to take a look at some of the actions that you could use should you ever find yourself in the position of been bullied at work, of course bearing in mind that every situation is different.
Before you consider taking action, it is best to talk it over with someone. It's always a possibility that what may seem like bullying, in fact not be. For example changes within the organization can create stress on all levels (staff, supervisors, managers etc), and so stress may be causing some short term issues and demands. If you are finding it difficult to cope, perhaps take the time to talk to your manager or supervisor, who may well be as concerned as you are. Sometimes in situations like this communication can be the way to make changes.
What to do if you are bullied at work
Employers have a responsibility to care for their employees and this includes dealing with bullying at work. Here are measures you can take if you are a victim of workplace bullying –
- Get Advice – speak to someone about how you might deal with the problem informally, this may be a trade union official, someone in HR, your manager or supervisor. Some companies have specially trained staff (harassment advisers) to help with bullying or harassment cases. You can check with a HR rep to find out if your company has one.
- Talk to your bully – the bullying behavior may not be deliberate (sometimes stress, personal issues, problems at home or work can turn the best person into a temporary ogre), sometimes by having a calm and polite conversation can make a big difference, as the bully may not have even realized how their behavior has been affecting you. Work out what to say beforehand, describe what's happening and what you object to. If you find that you cannot do this then it may be possible to ask someone else to do this on your behalf, again a HR rep, supervisor, manager etc.
- Keep a written record – write down every incident in a diary noting date & time, and keep copies of any relevant documents, insulting emails, aggressive notes etc. If you need to make a formal charge against this person then your written record will be invaluable. Bullying can be a very stressful situation and you may find this is affecting your health, if this is the case for you then I would advise you to visit your doctor, you may need a letter from the doctor should you consider making a formal complaint.
- Make a formal complaint – making a formal complaint is next step if you cannot resolve the issue informally. To do this you must follow your employer's grievance procedure. It's at this point that you may need the advice of a legal representative, such a lawyer, solicitor etc. Normally the grievance procedures for a company are in writing, you should be able to find these in the company handbook, HR or personnel manual, Hr intranet site or your own employment contract. You should also be able to find the name of the person that you can submit your grievance to.
- Generally to comply with the Code, the general employer's grievance procedure is likely to include the following steps –
- Writing a letter to your employer setting out the details of your grievance
- A meeting with your employer to discuss the issue (you may need to bring your evidence at this point so remember your written records and any other hard evidence you have)
- Legal Action – sometimes the problem continues even after you have followed all of the above steps. If nothing has been done and you feel that there is no other option then you can think about legal action, which may mean going to an Employment Tribunal. You will need professional assistance at this point and your complaint will be made under the laws covering discrimination and harassment.
If you are in a place where you find that you are the victim of workplace bullying you most certainly are not alone, I hope these posts will be helpful to you. If you have anymore information that you would like to offer please feel free to add those as comments below.
Lastly "When solving problems, dig at the roots instead of just hacking at the leaves" – Anthony J. D'Angelo, The College Blue Book
Thanks to Catherine Connors / Bloggertone