Tips To Combat Workplace Bullying

Posted by Heidi Schwartz The Workplace Bullying Institute defines workplace bullying as “repeated mistreatment: sabotage by others that prevented work from getting done, verbal abuse, threatening conduct, intimidation, and humiliation.” Regardless of how your company defines it, there’s one big, important takeaway: Workplace bullying is an early warning sign of potential violence in the office. Employers can combat workplace bullying by:

  • Setting effective company policies against bullying
  • Communicating and training staff on policies and recognizing bullying tactics
  • Intervening at the first signs of bullying behavior

To read more about workplace bullying policies, read “4 Safeguards Against Bullying in the Workplace” by Eugene Ferraro. It is available from this link.


  1. Targets, victims and witnesses of bullying
    have a few avenues to pursue (as compared with victims of sexual harassment)
    when subject to repeated and obvious acts of aggression, spreading malicious
    rumours, excluding someone socially or from certain projects, undermining or
    impeding a person’s work or opinions, insulting a person’s habits, attitudes,
    or private life and intruding upon a person’s privacy. Others include being
    rude or belligerent, destroying property, assaulting an individual, or setting
    impossible deadlines. Although bullying is recognized as detrimental to
    occupational health, there is little political or corporate interest in
    stopping it.

    In schoolyard bullying, the bullies are children, whose behaviour is controlled by
    the leaders, i.e. the school administration. In workplace bullying, however,
    the bullies are often the leaders themselves, i.e., the managers and
    supervisors. Therefore, reporting a bully to the HR dept, for example, may expose
    the target/victim to the risk of even more bullying, slower career advancement,
    or even termination, on the grounds of being a “troublemaker!”.

    Workplace bullying has severe consequences, including reduced effectiveness and high employee turnover. An employee who suffers any physical or psychiatric injury as a result of workplace bullying can confront the bully, report the bully to the HR department or to the trade union, if any, or bring a claim of negligence and/or a personal injury claim against both the employer and the abusive employee as joint respondents in the claim. If the law does not persuade employers to deal with workplace bullying, the economic reality will persuade them. Training sessions can help when combined with a confidential reporting structure, but it is difficult to alter
    the basic nature of some individuals, who may need counselling.

    Maxwell Pinto, Business Author

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