WHAT IS BULLYING?
Creating a safe and supportive workplace is critical on pretty much every level for employee wellbeing, productivity, retention, diversity, inclusion, and overall organisational success. Workplaces that prioritise safety, foster open communication, provide support systems, and cultivate a culture of respect and collaboration, are much more likely to be an environment where employees thrive and reach their full potential.
A toxic work environment on the other hand fosters fear, hostility, and mistrust among employees, so at a time when many are finding that recruiting the right people is proving particularly challenging, it makes sound sense to ensure that your workplace is as attractive as possible to potential employees. Understanding what can put a harmonious workplace at risk – such as bullying – is essential.
Bullying is a complex issue that can take various forms, but all can have negative and long-lasting impacts on the individuals involved as well as the wider workplace. The three most common forms of bullying are:
Take note that these examples bullying are not mutually exclusive, and individuals may experience multiple forms at the same time or at different times.
WHAT IS NOT BULLYING?
It's also important to recognise what doesn’t constitute bullying. Understanding what doesn’t qualify as workplace bullying helps differentiate it from other workplace interactions and supports appropriate measures being taken to address genuine instances of bullying.
Here are some examples of situations that we should be careful not to confuse with workplace bullying:
With the increasing use of technology and social media, new forms of bullying are likely to continue to emerge, but a similarity they all share are the severe consequences bullying can have for the victims, their loved ones, and the workplace. So, it’s crucial for organisations to foster an environment where employees can raise concerns and report potential bullying without fear of reprisal. If you don’t already have them, documenting a Bullying and Harassment Policy and a Code of Conduct that detail your organisation’s expectations (what is considered appropriate and the possible outcome/s of failure to meet the required standards) are a good place to start.