Often, when we think, read or talk about bullying, a teenager
or an elementary school child is involved. Many people think of bullying in the
lines of "give me your lunch money" or “do my homework"
Unfortunately, there is another prevalent form of bullying
which is on the rise and few people are willing to talk about it – bullying in
There is no legal definition of workplace bullying but the many
people confuse it with other common vices such as harassment, micro-management
However, bullying can be described as repetitive unfair
treatment of an individual by his/her boss, employer, colleague or a group of
colleagues at the workplace. Workplace bullying affects the victim and the
organization in unimaginable ways. But before we delve into the effects or
workplace bullying, we first need to understand the forms in which it
What is workplace bullying?
Bullying can be as basic being isolated from team duties,
copied emails or withdrawing information that would otherwise be helpful in
performing one's duties.
It could also be physical whereby, an employee is pushed,
grabbed or hit by someone at the workplace. Hurling insults, making derogatory
comments, 'whispering' behind the victim's back as well as issuing threats such
as "I can get yout fired" are other common forms of bullying.
Sometimes corporate bullies intertwine their actions with
discrimination in the case where gender, sexual orientation or race is
involved. For instance, in a 2015 report by YouGov, Asians and other minority
races were more likely to experience some form of bullying disguised as
The report also revealed that women were more likely to be
victimised than men, but female co-workers and bosses were reportedly biased
towards fellow women.
Effects of corporate bullying on the victim
Bullying has a lot of negative effects on both the victim and
the organisation - the most common effect being on company and team morale. The
victim will feel less interested and motivated to go to work and over time, their
self-esteem will be deeply wounded.
Often, victims end up being retrenched due to
under-performance or stagnation, which is an indirect result of declining
morale. In extreme cases, victims
could develop mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. This in return
could lead to suicidal thoughts or hospitalisation and an inability to
Effects on the organisation?
The organisation may not be affected by bullying in the short
term but eventually, repeated cases of bullying take their toll colleagues
which in turn will creep through the entire organization.
First, colleagues may feel threatened. This affects their
morale and productivity.
Second, an organisation's turnover rate is likely to rise as
employees take the decision to move away from a toxic working environment.
Lastly, if a victim decides to take legal action against the
bullies, an organisation's image and reputation could suffer immensely. If such
cases attract the public interest, people may boycott the organization's
products and services. In addition, it may be difficult to attract and retain
good talent in future.
What can be done about workplace bullying?
There are no notable policies or laws governing how to tackle
workplace bullying. This, however, does not mean that bullies should get away
with their actions. To resolve this issue, both the victim and the organisation
need to take action.
First, the victim should keep record of all instances of
bullying. These will serve as evidence, if they decide to take legal action,
either through a lawyer or their trade union.
Second, the victim should discuss their plight with the human
resource personnel to establish whether there are policies that touch on their
situation. If HR lacks a suitable solution, industrial courts can resolve such
issues but at a cost.
Lastly, if their mental or physical health is affected, it is
advisable to seek medical attention and counselling.
The organisation's management, on the other hand, can take
measures such as educating all employees, from the top down, about corporate
bullying and its consequences. In addition, every organisation should put in
place policies that deal with bullying effectively.
In a nutshell, corporate bullies don't disappear after senior
They proceed to colleges and universities and some will
become bosses. The fact that people are not willing to talk about bullying at
the workplace doesn't change the reality. There is an imminent need to tackle
the issue, not just at a personal or organizational level but on a legal or
national scale. If people can deal with harassment and discrimination, then
there is room to deal with workplace bullying.
Mayfair, we care.