We spend a lot of time at our workplaces building relationships, investing energy into our tasks and projects, and we hope to be satisfied by our contributions. Sometimes, through no fault of our own, relationships can go sour and the workplace can become toxic due to workplace bullying. If you’re struggling with a situation at work, here are eight things you need to know about workplace bullying.
1. Identify Bullying
A workplace bully is someone who causes psychological damage through verbal and strategic insults. The content of the bullying can come in many forms such as: teasing, spreading rumours, threats, retaliation, unjust performance management, offensive jokes or innuendo. If you’re regularly feeling to be made uncomfortable, incompetent or tormented speak with your manager or supervisor.
2. Types of Bullying
Not all bullying will be obvious to you. Below are a few styles of bullying which you might not realize is happening to you.
- Subtle: Rumour spreading and destroying reputation.
- Abusive: Hounding and humiliation in public.
- Controlling: May withhold resources or materials required to perform job-related tasks.
- Opportunistic: Competitive to the point of causing harm to achieve career gains.
Keep track of the bullying instances very thoroughly. Having a list of the times, dates and details of the event will determine code violations and help your manager or lawyer understand the situation. It can be very helpful to have witness statements to back your claims.
If you are being bullied your physical and mental health could be affected. It could impact other areas of your life, such as social ties, or your enjoyment in the workplace. Stress-related health problems could include: anxiety, panic attacks or depression. These complications can affect your productivity and concentration at work, as well as at home. If you’re feeling like your work and home life are being affected by bullying, it is important to speak with your employer and health care provider as soon as you can.
Your employer has an obligation to investigate any claims of workplace bullying. According to provincial standards, once your employer is made aware of the behaviour, steps must be taken to ensure the complaints are investigated and the behaviour is terminated.
Your employer is further required to prevent the bully from retaliating against you for making a complaint. Your safety is incredibly important and if the bully retaliates, this is called a reprisal and it is illegal.
You may choose to confront the bully by taking a direct approach. The results may have unpredictable consequences and repercussions. Try to confront the bully is a professional setting and have upper management present. This may improve your chances of achieving a more positive outcome.
A legal claim against the bully can be made if your employer has not addressed the situation appropriately. A lawyer can stand behind your claim and represent you. A lawyer will help ensure that the bullying behaviour is stopped, or help you to find a way out of the negative work environment.
8. Self- Care
It is important to continue to take care of yourself during this turbulent time.
- If necessary, seek medical attention for any psychological or physical injuries.
- Establish boundaries between yourself and the bully.
- Do not blame yourself.
There are labour laws and policies in place throughout Canada, but unfortunately workplace bullying can still happen and there is no easy solution. It is very important for you to notify management and contact an employment lawyer to seek third party mediation. Ultimately, please remember that you are not to blame.