Why do bullies, bully?
One explanation is that they are looking for attention. Being noticed makes them feel important or powerful. The bully might have feelings of envy or resentment towards a work colleague. It might be they are very insecure about their own position within the business or department.
It may simply be that the bully is not being line managed or worse, the employer condones the behaviour believing it gets results. In some cases the bully has a hold over senior management, or they are the business owner or related to the business owner.
This category of workplace bully believes they are above the law so does not have to follow process.
A classic defence tactic for a bully in either of these scenarios is for the bully to quickly change persona when accused of being a bully, by claiming he or she is the hurt, aggrieved, victim. Bullies can lack empathy or remorse and in most cases, bullies harbour a strong need to control and dominate others.
The personality traits of the bully could be an indication that their behaviour in the office is the result of underlying issues they’ve been coping with for many years.
Growing up in an environment where little or no positive interaction with adults is considered normal and in many cases they have been raise by an emotionally unstable or even physically abusive parent or guardian.
From an early age the environment they’ve been subjected to would teach them that vulnerability leads to abuse and the best form of defence is offence. This creates a need for self-preservation and they look to take their own inadequacies out on others.
Bullying helps them seize control of a situation or they may feel that some how it compensates for the lack of attention they long for.
Practical help and advice for children and adults dealing with bullying at school or work
Its not easy to stand up to bullying but we are here to help. We have a free confidential helpline and information covering all forms of bullying.
Most people understand bullying as behaviour by an individual or group, repeated over time, that is intended to hurt another individual or group either physically or emotionally.
If you are struggling with bullying, harassment, cyberbullying or anti-social behaviour issues, we hope this website will enable you to identify solutions and remedies along with practical help.
All bullying, whatever the motivation or method is unacceptable and should not be tolerated. It can affect anyone and we are all potential targets - whether we are adult, child or the bullying is at school, in the community, at work, on line or at home.
By law, all schools must have measures in place to prevent bullying and teachers, pupils and parents should be told what that policy is. A schools involvement in tackling bullying should not start at the point at which a child or student has been bullied.
Good schools develop an ethos to prevent bullying happening in the first place.
When bullying does occur, it is important for schools to respond promptly, support the bullied pupil and ensure that bullying does not happen again.
Likewise, employers should have robust procedures in place to deal with bullying in the workplace. If you are being bullied, talk to your employer and find out what procedures and policies are in place and find out how to make a formal complaint using your employer’s grievance procedure.
Our four step process to help you combat bullying
The National Bullying Helpline is a not-for-profit charitable organisation. Our Volunteers all give their time freely to the helpline and our services are increasingly in demand.
Every call we receive has a unique set of circumstances, some are just looking to clarify their position, while some have reached the point where they want to take legal action. With this in mind, we have developed a four step process to help you work through your situation and resolve your bullying issue.
The NBH Website
This website is full of information related to bullying, including useful tips, common-sense approaches, advice and practical information for adults and children.
An employment law specialist will review your situation and provide you with a professional, case specific report with details on how to proceed and what steps to take next.
Instruct a Professional
Do you need to talk to a solicitor or get help with a business dispute? Search the Bullying Directory for professional services across the UK related to bullying and employment law.
FREE HELPLINE: 08452255757
Find out what steps you can take to effectively tackle bullying at work
When we think of bullies, we tend to remember the ones we knew at school. Unfortunately, bullying doesn’t stop there for everyone. For some, the bullying continues into adult life.
The bullies we knew at school have continued to bully or intimidate the people around them and may have used these techniques to climb the employment ladder to a position of authority. Although there can be a fine line between a tough boss and an abusive one, bullying generally refers to being subjected to repeated emotional or even physical abuse.
The workplace bully deliberately manipulates, belittles, intimidates and tries to control or undermine their victim using any means available to them. In this digital age, the workplace bully’s playground has now extended to cyberbullying with the use of email, mobile phones and social media sites like Twitter or Facebook.
Bullying at work and anti social behaviour resulting in stress, is a fact of life for too many workers in the UK but your employer has a ‘Duty of Care’ to provide a safe and stress-free place of work for all staff.
If you believe you are being bullied or you know someone who is, we will try to help. If you are being harassed at work by a colleague or manager, suspended, Dismissed or Disciplined or you’ve been treated badly by your employer. We have information and practical advice to help you stop the bullying and resolve your issues.
Our advisers are CIPD trained and have specialist skills in conflict resolution and can help you find solutions to your current situation, in some cases we are able to work with you and your employers to help put a stop to the bullying.
Stress related to bullying in the workplace
Here we address the issue of Work Related Stress and talk you through causes, effect and action you can take to reduce the risk of negative stress. This is a particularly interesting issue as over 70% of employee calls to our helpline have already been signed off work with Work Related Stress by their GP.
In some cases, callers have been off work for months and months and risk dismissal on grounds of ‘Capability Due to Ill Health’. Don’t wait until you are so ill you cannot see a way forward. Call us if you need help.
At some point in our working lives we have all probably felt stressed about a project, target or circumstance that’s out of our control. It might have been the potential outcome of a situation is perceived to be a threat to your job or reputation within the business.
Stress can affect us all differently and no one is immune to feeling stressed, it can all depend on the person and their ability to perform under pressure. It certainly does not imply weakness. In fact it’s a fundamental part of our survival instincts that makes us human. Stress is a physical response by the brain to danger.
Unfortunately, prolonged exposure to stress related to bullying at work can have serious consequences on our body and mind. There are a number of recognised illnesses that are associated with stress or are forms of stress, including PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and PTED (Post Traumatic Embitterment Disorder) and Depression.
The physical and mental impact on our lives due to bullying related stress can affect our behaviour and relationships at home and work. It can also have an impact on our ability to do our job.
Stress is one on the biggest contributors to long term sick leave in the UK with over half a million workers citing stress, depression or anxiety as a factor to their absence in the last year. If you are suffering with a stress related condition or you think that you might be stressed. These are some of the signs to look out for.
What is Stress?
Stress can be likened to an ‘out of body’ experience where you cease to function normally, or think rationally, due to feelings of confusion, hurt, anger, frustration and despair caused by the actions of another person.
Some say stress is good for you but where it is attributed to the negative behaviour of an individual, or employer, and where that treatment impacts negatively on your health, it is quite the opposite. If left, the distress turns to a level of stress that can become deep-routed and harmful long term.
It is a mental health condition. It constitutes injury if it can be proven that the injury (ie: the stress) has been caused by the actions of others – or by a failure to act, in cases where an employer fails to investigate matters but ‘knew or reasonably ought to have known’ that the treatment was potentially harmful.
Top 10 Tips to Reduce Stress
Adopt an attitude that stress is not a weakness and develop this culture within your department and/or organisation Ensure you are not suffering from stress yourselfAnalyse your management style and behaviour. (We can help) Ensure the working environment is suitable. (Analyse your turnover and absence statistics) Help your staff cope with change - no matter how big or small Improve communications. Talk to staff. Observe your staff. Make yourself available. Walk the Talk! (Read In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters & Robert H Waterman Jr.) Empathise. Think of yourself in your employees' shoes Do regular, informal, risk assessments on your staff to check nobody is subject to work related stress. Encourage staff to attend development courses and stress management courses. Praise your staff. Remember to say "thank you" (it costs nothing and goes a long way).
I have reported a bullying issue at work to my manager but the company won't do anything about it
Workplace bullying in the UK is more common than you might think, the world of business is fast paced and very competitive. High-pressured environments can cultivate morally questionable decision-making. Managers can seem reluctant to do anything to stop the bullying behaviour within their department of organisation.
A number of reasons could be preventing your manager from attempting to stop the bullying in your office or place of work. It could be the bully is your manager or a friend of your manager. Quite often they try to rationalise the situation in an attempt to justify the bullying as something else.
Particularly common in a sales environment is tactical acceptance of bullying to achieve targets. Managers often turn a blind eye because the bullies are contributing a profit to the business. In these situation bullying can be ignored or perceived as “motivational”.
Short-term gains at your expense may seem OK to them now but the potential cost to staff moral, not to mention the health implications that can present themselves from bullying, will cost them in the long run.
Absence from work and sick leave due to stress or depression can have a major impact on the productivity and profitability of a business. It affects the businesses bottom line and even its survival.
Bullying is not OK in any situation, no matter the environment. Bullying is not acceptable if it results in a sale! Bullying has no place at work for businesses that want to be successful. Being bullied by your boss can also increase anxiety levels if you are in fear of repercussions for speaking out. The thought of loosing your job can put an enormous amount of strain on a person.
Firstly we recommend you start collecting as much evidence as you can, this includes keeping a dairy of events to help paint a clear picture of what’s been happening.
If you need to recall particular events, having a reliable record will add credibility to your claim of bullying or harassment. If you have one and presuming they are not the bully, go and talk to your HR manager. They will help you. They know your organisation and the people in it better than anyone and they also know the law is there to protect you.
If you don’t have anyone in the business dedicated to employee relations, a human resources or personnel department and you are unable to escalate this to a more senior member of staff. Call us and we will talk you through some of the options available to you
If you are facing a disciplinary or at risk of suspension or dismissal because of bullying
Facing a disciplinary can be scary for anyone. The potential consequence of a formal action against you can be life changing. It not only affects you but your family too.
If you have received formal notice to attend a disciplinary related to bullying at work. Your employer should put a formal request in writing, detailing why you have been asked to attend, what you can expect to happen in the meeting and the potential outcome.
You should be given enough time to put evidence together for your defence and you are entitled to see any evidence against you prior to the meeting.
You are totally within your rights to be accompanied by a witness but if you can’t find one, remember to take notes during the meeting. These notes could be vital to your case if you have been treated unfairly. You should seek legal advice if you think you have been treated badly and you believe this could constitute Unfair Dismissal. Your employer must follow procedures and have a good reason to dismiss you.
Constructive dismissal is also something a legal expert can advise you on. If you have been forced to leave your position because of your employer’s actions, then you might have a case for constructive dismissal. Please see below
In some cases, when an employee has been asked to attend a disciplinary, they can also be suspended from duties until the meeting is concluded. In most case you will still receive full pay while you are off work. In some serious cases an employee can be suspended without pay. See your contract of employment for more information regarding dismissal and suspension.
While you are on suspension you are still employed by the company and must act accordingly and your employment rights are not affected during this time. A solicitor would be able to advise you if your case can be taken to an employment tribunal. For more information or advice on what to do next, call 0845 22 55 787
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