EMPLOYEE–WORK PLACE HARASSMENT / BULLYING
WORKPLACE BULLYING – More severe impact on someone’s life and career. Let me share my story –
I was working in a Reinsurance Company and I had been bullied there till the date I have resigned –
I had nowhere to go and no one to reach out for help, I was being cornered by my immediate boss and unfortunately, he was the in-charge of our regional office. My boss had a bad intention towards me, from the day I joined he offered me to go for a coffee or meet somewhere else. I was continuously avoiding him and one day I burst out with anger and told him – I got these because of my experience and my ability to perform my role flawlessly, not to indulge his uncanny wishes. He took revenge on me and that’s how my bullying days started –
Everyone in the office stops talking to me suddenly, even asking them any questions they never replied with care, I started feeling I’m invisible. All my job responsibility taken away and I was told to go out and do random visits to clients which were not part of my job profile, I was given a computer and a small sitting arrangement but I had no work. The whole day I use to wait for my boss to call me and give me a lecture on how to maintain a call sheet and how many clients I had visited. When I questioned him that is not under my job responsibility he denied that and he said that’s all he had to offer me in this company. Tears used to fall from my eyes, but no one to share, every single day – it was like tracking over a mountain and unable to see what comes next. Suddenly I was informed I had to report to another person including him, she was the GM of the company but her department was different, I had no option but to agreed, so every single day I had to knock on two doors to say good-morning, every time I go out to visit I had to inform both of them. While sending an e-mail to my clients I had to tag my bosses, where there was no valid reason for them to be in that email. All my colleagues behaved with me as if I’m a criminal and had no place to work with them. The housekeeper use to misbehave whenever asking him to do anything – like he used to keep a nice glass in each of us table but for me, there was no arrangement as such I had to ask for a bottle every time I feel thirsty, I had been removed from two projects and placed with sales officer even being a Chief manager of the company, my performance use to be appraised in front of my reportees. I had no idea what should I do? I tried to talk to him but every time he ignored me like I’m dead. I tried to talk to one of my colleagues but he informed that to the GM and the whole story got licked in a second to the boss. Every one of them was against me, every one of them was hateful and abusive towards me.
Situations like that may occur in anyone’s life – things which I did understand after going through such trauma that how it impacts your life and the organization too. The problem with my company there was no one to reach after my boss, so the organization had not developed an employee-centric culture where an employee can reach out for help if needed.
How Bullying at your workplace can affect your life?
Physical health effects of bullying
If you’re being bullied, you may:
• feel sick or anxious before work or when thinking about work
• have physical symptoms, such as digestive issues or high blood pressure
• have a higher risk for type 2 diabetes
• have trouble waking up or getting quality sleep
• have somatic symptoms, such as headaches and decreased appetite
Mental health effects of bullying
Psychological effects of bullying may include:
• thinking and worrying about work constantly, even during time off
• dreading work and wanting to stay home
• needing time off to recover from stress
• losing interest in things you usually like to do
• increased risk for depression and anxiety
• suicidal thoughts
• low self-esteem
• self-doubt, or wondering if you’ve imagined the bullying
How does bullying affect the workplace?
Workplaces with high rates of bullying can also experience negative consequences, such as:
• financial loss resulting from legal costs or bullying investigations
• decreased productivity and morale
• increased employee absences
• high turnover rates
• poor team dynamics
• reduced trust, effort, and loyalty from employees
When bullying isn’t addressed, it becomes easier for people to continue bullying, especially when the bullying is subtle. Bullies who take credit for work or intentionally make others look bad may end up receiving praise or being promoted.
What to do if you’re being bullied at work-
Well, I can tell you with my experience -
When experiencing bullying, it’s common to feel powerless and unable to do anything to stop it. If you try to stand up to the bully, you may be threatened or told no one will believe you. If it’s your manager bullying you, you may wonder who to tell.
First, take a moment to remind yourself that bullying is never your fault, regardless of what triggered it. Even if someone bullies you by making it seem like you can’t do your job, bullying is more about power and control, not your workability.
I tried to reach out everywhere – to my colleagues, to the head-office but no one comes forward to support me, your situation may not be as worst as mine but still, legal steps were there which I didn’t take because of my unwillingness to fight with them anymore but if you have somewhere to reach out, do not stop doing these following mentioned steps.
Begin to take action against bullying with these steps:
Document the bullying -Keep track of all bullying actions in writing. Note the date, the time, where the bullying took place, and other people who were in the room.
Save physical evidence- Keep any threatening notes, comments, or emails you receive, even if they’re unsigned. If there are documents that can help prove to bully, such as denied PTO requests, overly harsh commentary on assigned work, and so on, keep these in a safe place.
Report the bullying- Your workplace may have a designated person you can talk to if you don’t feel safe talking to your direct supervisor. Human resource is a good place to start. It’s also possible to talk about the bullying with someone higher up if your supervisor is unhelpful or if the person doing the bullying.
Confront the bully- If you know who’s bullying you, bring along a trusted witness, such as a co-worker or supervisor, and ask them to stop — if you feel comfortable doing so. Be calm, direct, and polite.
Review work policies- Your employee handbook may outline steps of action or policies against bullying. Also, consider reviewing state or even federal policies about the type of bullying you’re experiencing.
Seek legal Guidance-Consider talking to a lawyer, depending on the circumstances of the bullying. Legal action may not always be possible, but a lawyer can offer specific advice.
Reach out to Others-Co-workers may be able to offer support. Talking to your loved ones about bullying can also help. You can also talk to a therapist. They can provide professional support and help you explore ways to cope with the effects of bullying while you take other actions.
If you’re a member of a union, your union representative may be able to offer some guidance and support on how to deal with bullying.
You can also look into your employer’s employee assistance program if they have one. EAPs help you access resources to address a variety of issues that can affect your mental health and overall well-being.
How to help when you witness bullying
If you witness bullying, speak up! People often say nothing out of fear they’ll become targets, but ignoring bullying contributes to a toxic work environment.
Workplace policies against bullying can help people feel safer about speaking up when they see bullying happen.
If you witness bullying, you can help by:
• Offering support. Support could involve acting as a witness if the person targeted wants to ask the bully to stop. You can also help by going to HR with your co-worker.
• Listening. If your co-worker doesn’t feel safe going to HR, they may feel better-having someone to talk to about the situation.
• Reporting the incident. Your account of what happened could help your management team realize there’s a problem.
• Staying close to your co-worker, when possible. Having a supportive co-worker nearby could help reduce instances of bullying.
TAKE AWAY –
Bullying is a serious issue, many talents left the organization, much even suicide and take their own life, many got mental issues because of the trauma they faced, they never can work with the same confidence, may not come out from the trauma, and never attempt to work again. While many companies have a zero-tolerance policy, bullying can sometimes be hard to recognize or prove, making it difficult for managers to take action. Organizations have to take initiatives to have a strict unbiased rule on such bullying, more than 30% of employees suffer from this mental stress while working in an organization. An organization should be a place of work and performance, not a place for taking personal revenge based on grandiosity and biasedness. It is unfortunate when someone left the organization without even getting an opportunity to even express what they had gone through. Someone has to give up on them long before they started their career in a full-fledged. This has to stop by spreading awareness and reaching out to those who are now seemingly looking for help.
About the Author : Adya Chakraborty is a Corporate Trainer, Motivational Speaker, Psychological Counsellor and Mindfulness Coach. She has 16+ years of experience developing and delivering dynamic learning through Training in the field of - Sales, Customer Service, Soft skill, Management Skill and Hospitality. Her background includes designing, developing, and implementing training programs and instructional materials to facilitate staff and management education and progression.