Bullying in the workplace

Anti-Bullying Week - 11th-15th November 2019

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Health Assured team

25 October 2019

Research published by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has discovered that nearly a third of people have been bullied at work.


When thinking about the topic of bullying, many of us would be mistaken if considering it as an act that occurs exclusively between children at school.


Workplace bullying is a very real threat to employee wellbeing across the globe and employers should take notice of the effects it can have to their workplace environment.


In fact, according to the TUC’s report, nearly half (46%) of employees say that bullying has an adverse impact on their performance and mental health, and more than one in three (36%) people who report being bullied at work leave their job because of it.


In recognition of anti-bullying week, it’s vital that employers know what steps to take if someone is being bullied at work, ensure that their employees know what to do if they are being bullied and acknowledge the long-term impact bullying can have on a victim’s relationships, self-esteem and mental health and wellbeing.


Effects of workplace bullying

Victims: Like other mental health issues, the emotional effects of workplace bullying don’t stop at work. Being a victim of bullying can cause physical and psychological health problems that affect all aspects of a person’s life, including; stress, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping and high blood pressure.


Witnesses: Researchers at the University of Helsinki Department of Public Health have confirmed that non-target co-workers suffer from bullying too. Their results showed those who witness bullying at work are more likely to receive a prescription for psychotropic medications such as; antidepressants and sleeping pills.


Employers: Besides the significant effects bullying can have on an employee’s mental health and wellbeing, workplace bullying can also have detrimental effects on employers. In addition to disrupting the work environment and impacting worker morale, bullying can also:

  • Reduce productivity
  • Create a hostile work environment
  • Promote absenteeism
  • Cause additional costs to recruit and train new employees
  • Create a poor public image


Signs of bullying

Acas characterise workplace bulling as “offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient”.


Workplace bullying can manifest in a variety of ways, including physical or emotional abuse. Some examples include:

  • Berating a colleague
  • Taking credit for other people work
  • Excluding others (ostracism)
  • -Threatening others
  • Dictating unfair criticism


Preventing workplace bullying

To fulfil your duty of care for your employees, it’s recommended that you confront workplace bullying and maintain a bullying-free workplace. Not only is prevention more cost-effective than intervention or mediation, but it is the best way to protect the wellbeing of your workforce.


In order to be more proactive, you can offer education opportunities for managers, supervisors, and other authority figures on the best way to approach bullies, as well maintaining their impartial stance. After all, in 72% of cases the bullying is carried out by a manager.


Regardless of the cause, the consequences of bullying can be severe and result in negative work-related outcomes. You should strive to create a workplace environment that cultivates teamwork, cooperation, and positive interaction instead.



If you would like to find out more information on any of the topics mentioned in this article, please contact Health Assured on:

UK: 0844 892 2493

ROI: 01886 0324

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