Providing a safe workplace is one of the employer’s responsibilities. This includes ensuring the security of the employee who may be affected by bullying. Different forms of bullying in the workplace may happen and can affect an employee both psychologically and physically. Any behavior that may intimidate an employee should not be tolerated and should be dealt with accordingly.

Bullying can include:

  • Verbal abuse, insults and intimidation
  • Threats of violence
  • Sarcasm
  • Unjustified criticisms and belittling of one’s opinion
  • Teasing and making jokes about someone
  • Threats of dismissal or other punishment for no reason
  • Sabotaging a person’s work
  • Tampering with a person’s personal effects
  • Overworking someone or placing unreasonable work targets and demands upon them
  • Deliberately withholding important information
  • Restrictive or petty rules
  • Constant intrusive surveillance
  • Ostracising people from social networks

Other serious forms of bullying may include physical attacks or harassment on a person’s gender, race, religion, disability, sexual preference, marital status, pregnancy or age.

Steps employees can take to prevent bullying

  • Identify the person responsible for bullying
  • Keep a report of bullying incidents in the workplace
  • Discuss the situation with other workers, human resource persons, health and safety representatives, or union officials.
  • Write a formal written complaint that includes a detailed information regarding the bullying and/or harassment incident.
  • Outside advice may be taken if the person responsible for bullying is an employer or if the complaint was blatantly disregarded by the management

The effects of bullying include:

  • Loss of confidence and self-esteem
  • Feeling of isolation
  • Decreasing quality of work
  • Life outside work being affected
  • Sleep difficulties, problems in concentrating, aches and pains caused by high levels of stress
  • Depression, anxiety and panic attacks

Steps employers and managers can take to prevent bullying

  • Implement a Code of Conduct or No Bullying Policy that will clearly state the company’s stand against bullying.
  • A No Bullying Policy should
    • Be written in a language that can be easily understood by the people
    • Be written in other languages besides English where appropriate
    • Be displayed in a place where all employees can see it
    • Be in a nature that doesn’t blame people
    • Uphold the principles of natural justice and allow the person accused of bullying an opportunity to answer all allegations
    • Be communicated to employees at relevant times
  • Observe the workplace for any indications of bullying
  • Immediately investigate any indications of bullying
  • Handle all complaints with utmost confidentiality and act on them accordingly