Workplace bullying: how to protect yourself

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Workplace bullying is an issue that often goes unnoticed

It’s common to think that bullying only operates within the confines of a school. However, workplace bullying is an issue that often goes unnoticed. Hundreds of thousands of Black workers face racist behaviour ranging from jokes to bullying and harassment. 

Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, is an example of someone who has been subjected to harmful vitriol from the media. This is done under the guise of careless ‘jokes’ and ‘personal opinion’. It is important to remember that language is powerful and comments like these have had a detrimental impact on her wellbeing. 

According to a report, two out of every five Black workers have experienced workplace racism. This figure rises to more than half aged 25 to 34 and nearly 3 in 5 of those aged 18 to 24.

What exactly is workplace bullying?

The Workplace Bullying Institute defines workplace bullying as “Repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators. It is abusive conduct i.e, threatening, humiliating, intimidating, or work-interference which prevents work from getting done.” 

This can include jokes about gender or race, being assigned tasks no one wants to do, being ignored or not taken seriously, and being humiliated in front of others. While this might typically take place face-to-face. With today’s technology becoming more widely available, it is also possible to dominate colleagues using digital communication channels.

When the labour market contracts, job security is suddenly brought to light. This may lead to a hostile work atmosphere when individuals feel the urge to dominate their coworkers. The situation that resembles “survival of the fittest.” Ambitious people can quickly turn hostile as they begin to put others below themselves to “survive” or “advance.”

The cost of workplace bullying

According to a report, workplace bullying costs the economy £18 million annually. This is from employee turnover to health-related issues and decreases in productivity. Employees need to feel safe. An employee’s sense of psychological safety and belonging, can be affected by workplace discrimination. Bullying can come in different forms. Managers may involve misuse of authority. Bullying by coworkers takes many forms, including gossip, work sabotage, and criticism. 

How to protect yourself from workplace bullying 

Workplace bullying can be overt or covert, making an employee’s working life uncomfortable. Below are a few ways to protect yourself and advance your career. 

Save physical evidence

Do you have records of threatening notes or emails? Keep any documents you can use to establish bullying. Examples are “rejected PTO requests” and “excessively critical comments” on given work.

Reach out and get advice 

Coworkers can assist. You can consider seeing a therapist. While you take other actions, therapists can offer you expert support in exploring how to handle the effects of bullying.

Make a formal complaint

If you feel uncomfortable talking to your immediate boss, your employer may have a designated person you may reach out to. An excellent place to start is with the HR department. If your supervisor is the bully, there is a chance to discuss the situation with someone higher up.

Bullying is a significant problem in the workplace. It can occasionally be challenging to identify or demonstrate, it is also challenging for managers to take action. If you’re bullied, take the necessary steps and speak up.

If you’re looking for a support network to help you navigate the workplace, you can join a By-Peers group. You can apply for a free mentor and communicate your concerns and experiences. 

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