For most of us, a job is not simply a job. It comprises a part of our identity and gives us a sense of pride and accomplishment. For those of us dedicated to our work, we want nothing more than to just get our heads down and focus, but there are certain factors that can seriously impact workplace productivity and performance. Workplace bullying, harassment and incivility are three such factors.
You might be confused and isolated at the moment; we like to believe that we leave bullying on the playground, but the reality is that adults can be just as cruel and malicious at times. It is important to note that you are not alone. One source claims that as much as 75% of us have been affected by workplace bullying in one form or another. Bullying can come in the form of humiliation, intimidation, sabotage or threats. Over time, this will doubtlessly impact you, your happiness and your work.
Another form of bullying to be mindful of is incivility. This silent menace all too often goes unaddressed, as by its nature it is generally much more subtle and insidious than outright bullying, but it is no less harmful. Incivility can lead to burnout, decreased morale and communication difficulties, as well as a loss in productivity. Studies show that 96% of employees have experienced incivility at work, which can come in the form of rudeness, gossip or passive aggression.
If you believe you have been the victim of harassment, bullying or incivility, take action sooner rather than later. Follow our career advice below and begin on your way to a happier workplace environment.
Begin by setting boundaries
Before starting anything formal, make an attempt to resolve the situation personally. Take your bully aside and let them know what they have done to intimidate or upset you. Everyone is different and we all have varying standards of what is appropriate. It may just be that what you perceived as aggression, they regarded as harmless teasing and they will be horrified to know they have upset you.
Explain that their behaviour is impacting your work and you would like them to stop. Be direct and dispassionate. If they thrive off negative reactions, they might enjoy watching you become emotional. Try to resolve things peacefully, but let them know that if things don’t change, you will have no choice but to take things further and make a complaint.
Keep a written record of all inappropriate incidents
If it becomes clear that your co-worker has no intention of backing down, the next step will be to go to your supervisor and make a formal complaint. To help you make your case, be proactive and keep a record of all cruel, bullying behaviour. When you go to your supervisor, you will be able to provide them with dates, details and perhaps even witnesses. If you have any aggressive emails or notes, include them in the report. Be professional, stick to solid facts and let your supervisor know that you have attempted to resolve this situation by yourself before coming to them.
Talk to Human Resources
If you have taken your complaints to your supervisor and nothing gets resolved, don’t let the situation go unaddressed. Not all managers are sensitive to this issue and many of them unjustly believe that as employees are adults, any personal qualms are to be resolved without third party interference. The reality is, if it impacts you, it impacts the organisation and you are deserving of help.
HR is there to help if the problem persists. Provide them with the history of the problem, the documentation and stress how long this has been going on for. Make it clear that you need help. HR know the legalities of what can happen if the organisation isn’t supportive and they will be able to help resolve the situation.
Seek external advice
If you have tried to resolve things personally, you have gone to your supervisor and you have sought help from HR, but nothing appears to be getting better, it might be time to seek external help. This isn’t ideal for you or the organisation, but you need to keep in mind that you warrant and deserve help, and you have given the organisation every opportunity to step in.
Two sources of help are the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), who make it their mission to improve working life through improved employee relations. They offer free and impartial advice. Another source of help can be found in the form of the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB). External sources should be your last port of call, following the aforementioned steps, but if you need their help, don’t hesitate in contacting them.
Everyone should feel motivated and engaged at work. Bullying can evoke a sense of dread and prevent you from even wanting to go to your office in the morning. Don’t be ashamed in admitting the reality of your situation; it is the first step in resolving the problem. Remember that you should never feel pressured out of a role simply because of a bully. You have worked long and hard to get where you are — don’t let the bully win now.
About the Author: Kaz Osman is a software developer and director at Career Ninja UK — a career hub that delivers employment news, interview tips and career advice. Kaz is passionate about helping people find the career of their dreams and providing all the information necessary to climb to the top of their field.