Have you been bullied at work?

Having experienced bullying at work in quite a nasty way, I was still surprised by the results of a recent survey which teachers completed at my workshop, when c 70% said that either they had experienced bullying directly or that they knew someone who had. What’s your experience of bullying? Perhaps even worse, the same percentage said that the bullying either hadn’t been dealt with at all or that it had been dealt with badly.

For me it eventually affected almost every aspect of my working life because I felt so bad with the worry and the stress of it. I’m a nice person (well I think so) and I just never expected people to be nasty and – even worse – devious with it. Mental stress according to Safe Work Australia, costs businesses more than $10 billion a year and that was back in 2013!

Mrs Ann Sherry, the then Chair of Safe Work Australia, commented:-

“The personal impact of mental stress on workers is a serious and detrimental issue the worker and their families and also employers,” revealed Ms Sherry.

So why don’t employers take it seriously? When I asked my High School Principal last year about his goals, one of the main ones was ‘Productivity’. If you accept the findings that-

“Typically mental stress claims result in workers being absent from the workplace for long periods of time.”

Perhaps the word productivity isn’t well understood in most workplaces and particularly not in schools. To be truly productive, we need to feel well and we need to feel valued. Have a look at the chart below and see if any of the phrases ring true for you. If you’re the employer, or the office manager, reflect on these phrases and work out if you could be accused of either using some of these or just as bad, ignoring them. Have I done any of the things below myself. I have to say maybe.

Are you experiencing one or more of these behaviours or actions?

Dealing with bullying at work
1. Awareness Training
The first step in eradicating bullying at work is Awareness Training. We don’t know what we don’t know and often we may be oblivious to the effect of our words or our actions. Taking time to monitor and reflect on your words and actions is a learned behavior and everyone can do it. Some employers would say that there is no time in a busy work schedule but if you’re working below capacity because of stress or you have to take time off, that has to be brought into the equation.

The irony of the many anti bullying campaigns in schools is that the people in charge seldom transfer those same ideas and processes to employees. Dealing with people who’re not getting on, is time consuming and it can be difficult but are the teachers less important than the students? Of course not! I would even go as far as to say that they are more important in organisational terms because if they are off sick or not working well, the students will suffer.

Read more in Elena’s ‘Ten Tips for dealing with Bullying at Work