Bullying In The Workplace: The Effects Of Workplace Bullying (And How To Deal With It)
We all have that someone at our workplace who not only annoys us but makes it harder for us to focus on our job performance. Every workplace has that someone and it’s OK but when this someone begins to mistreat you or harass you, then it is NOT okay.
This persistent mistreatment, criticism, harassment, and even exclusion from workplace activities can be termed workplace bullying. Anyone can be a bully or be bullied, regardless of their status, role, or even hierarchy at the workplace.
In a survey conducted, it was found that almost 30% of employees have experienced workplace bullying, and 43% of employees who work from home reported being bullied.
Workplace bullying, just like any other bullying, can negatively impact one’s health and productivity. In this article, we’ll be exploring what is workplace bullying, how to spot workplace bullying, the potential effects of workplace bullying, and how you can deal with a workplace bully.
What Is Workplace Bullying?
Any mistreatment that is harmful and targeted at a person, especially at a workplace, can be considered workplace bullying. The remarks or actions of a bully can be mean, offensive, intimidating, or mocking. Workplace bullying is usually directed at a person or a group.
Examples of workplace bullying can include:
- Harmful or offensive practical jokes
- Misleading someone about work duties (giving vague instructions or omitting information)
- Denying leave requests continuously without a valid reason
- Verbal use, manipulation, or gaslighting
While criticism isn’t a form of bullying, when the criticism is meant to humiliate someone then it can be a form of workplace bullying.
Sometimes bullying is more than physical, it can be psychological, and more often than not psychological bullying isn’t visible to others. Let’s read about how to spot signs of workplace bullying.
How To Spot Workplace Bullying?
When you’re unjustly treated at work then you struggle with Monday blues with a side of anxiety, every day. You look forward to the weekend even before the week begins and this can make you lose focus on your tasks. Some signs of workplace bullying can include:
- Forcing someone to do something they don’t want to do
- Dismissing genuine efforts
- Embarrassing coworkers in front of everyone
- Exclusion from workplace activities
- Using intimidation
- Lying to employees/coworkers
- Making mean or offensive remarks
- Minimizing someone’s concerns
- Taking credit for others’ work
- Using threats
Workplace bullying is not always noticeable or even openly violent. Bullying can be subtle such as gaslighting where the bully engages in inappropriate behaviors but later denies it. Read more on the examples of gaslighting at the workplace here.
The Effects Of Workplace Bullying
Just like any other form of bullying, workplace bullying can also leave emotional and mental wounds. And not only workplace bullying negatively affects the one being bullied but it also shed a negative light on the work environment, making it a toxic workplace.
The effects of workplace bullying can include:
1. Poor Health
Workplace bullying is not limited to people who are from the office but also affects people who work from home. And it doesn’t stop when the day ends. When you’re a victim of workplace bullying, you can have poor health conditions including:
- High blood pressure
- Mood swings
- Panic and anxiety attacks
- Stomach problems
- Chronic worry, etc.
Physical effects of workplace bullying and poor health can include:
- Muscle aches and pain
- Loss of appetite
- Poor sleep quality, etc.
2. Poor Mental Health
When you’re constantly mistreated at your workplace, you can develop chronic stress, feelings of low self-esteem, symptoms of depression, and anxiety. In research, it was found that workers who were bullied more often were more likely to take prescribed medication such as antidepressants, tranquilizers, and sleeping aids.
3. Poor Job Performance
Workplace bullying can also cause an inability to perform well at tasks. When you’re bullied at work, then you can develop issues such as:
- Incapacity to focus on tasks
- Poor self-esteem
- Trouble making decisions
- Lower productivity
- Loss of motivation
Workplace bullying can also leave a person feeling traumatized, powerless, confused, and helpless.
4. Poor Work Environment
Workplace bullying can not only demoralize the workers but can also contribute to a hostile and toxic work environment. When someone is bullied at their workplace, the workplace might risk absenteeism, low productivity, and even legal action.
What To Do When Facing A Workplace Bully?
If you’re facing a workplace bully, then you can:
1. Set Boundaries
When you’re bullied at the workplace, the first thing you can do is set work boundaries. Make sure you speak against their behavior and tell them that what they are doing is inappropriate and unacceptable. Make sure they understand that if they continue, you’ll report to authorities.
2. Confront Them
Once your boundaries are set, it’s important to stay true to your words and deliver on the consequences. If the bullying continues, you need to confront the bully politely and ask them to leave until they can behave appropriately.
3. Record The Abuse
When you’re bullied at work, make sure your record or document the abuse as evidence. Write the time, date, and witnesses. Save these records so you have evidence when you go to report the bullying to the respective authorities.
4. Report To The HR
If you can’t or are unable to resolve workplace bullying on your own, it is always the best course of action to report to HR. Make sure you check in with the employee handbook and learn the right steps to make an official complaint.
5. Seek Social Support
Apart from taking official action against workplace bullying, it is suggested that you seek social support as well. Try to practice stress management exercises or talk to a mental health professional if you’re struggling with extreme distress.
It’s always good to confront workplace bullies and maintain a bullying-free work environment. As an employer, you can offer classes to managers, superiors, or other high-authority people. More often than not, it’s the higher-ups that are workplace bullies. As an employer, you must strive to create a healthy and happy workplace where teamwork, cooperation between employees, and positive social interaction are promoted.
Bullying is a serious concern and should not be taken lightly. If you’re experiencing workplace bullying, then it is recommended you take the right steps and talk to a trusted supervisor or report to HR about the abusive behavior.
Bullying can be hard to spot when its effects are psychological or hard to prove. Make sure you know about your company’s policies on workplace bullying.
As an employer, you can take steps to avoid workplace bullying in your company and keep your employees’ health well.
I hope this blog helped you understand what is workplace bullying, the effects of workplace bullying, and how to deal with a workplace bully.
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