No smilies, no avatars, no flashing gifs. Just discuss the issues of the day, from last night's telly via football to science or philosophy.
Started by fenderstrat on Apr 10, 2019 5:51:32 PM
Bullying at work

What constitutes bullying? I have a close friend who is relating to me things that happen in her job - aggressive behaviour from others, predominantly, in front of still others - which sound like bullying.

She is very averse to conflict, as we generally are, but the other protagonist in this office drama isn't. And I suspect she is being harmed (worrying, losing sleep, high arousal).

What does "bullying" mean, legally? And in good personel management practice?

TrouserFreak - 10 Apr 2019 17:54:31 (#1 of 17)

Bullying and harassment means any unwanted behaviour that makes someone feel intimidated, degraded, humiliated or offended. It is not necessarily always obvious or apparent to others, and may happen in the workplace without an employer's awareness.

Bullying or harassment can be between two individuals or it may involve groups of people. It might be obvious or it might be insidious. It may be persistent or an isolated incident. It can also occur in written communications, by phone or through email, not just face-to-face.

TrouserFreak - 10 Apr 2019 17:57:42 (#2 of 17)

Ultimately, there will have to be a managed confrontation to get people to be aware of their behaviour and allow them the opportunity to correct their behaviour.

ACAS do 1 day courses for people being accused of bullying which might be of use.

I've been bullied at work and I've been accused of bullying too. Tread carefully and take lots of notes and save emails.

brooklyn - 10 Apr 2019 17:58:52 (#3 of 17)

here are a couple of US answers.

bossab2 - 10 Apr 2019 18:01:57 (#4 of 17)

Your boss standing by your desk trying to time your activities with a stopwatch...

fenderstrat - 10 Apr 2019 18:16:07 (#5 of 17)

Thanks Trousers and Brook - great stuff.

Boss - cheers!

widenation - 11 Apr 2019 13:17:06 (#6 of 17)

Complicated. I've witnessed passive aggressive behaviour where people make out they're being bullied as well - ie victim playing.

pranzingfrogg - 11 Apr 2019 13:56:00 (#7 of 17)

It’s a really tricky area, full of ifs and buts. In theory almost anyone could say “I feel like I’ve been bullied” simply because their line manager has told them to do something they don’t feel like doing. The emotional effect could be genuine because diffferent people react in different ways, but where do you start with verification? And a lot depends on the nature of the job as well.

Let’s say A police cadet claims to be feeling bullied because the training instructor snapped at them when they made a poor decision. But if they make a poor decision when they are doing the job for real, the consequences could be a lot worse than a colleague’s impatience. Are they in the right job? Plus a single incident would need to be cross referenced with a wider pattern. Of course then you have the risk of the gaffers closing ranks, or appearing to do so.

I was once threatened by my manager with an adverse performance assessment over what in my view was a simple misunderstanding with another manager, and I was so fed up I had serious thoughts of claiming the two managers were bullying me, just to give them a jolt, but thought better of it. It would have made things more difficult next time round for anyone who had an actual case. But I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that many others have gone down that road as a form of revenge.

Leftie - 11 Apr 2019 16:47:56 (#8 of 17)

I'm not very bright but I don't think I'd have the nerve to shout at anyone at work. Not that I generally go around shouting at people anyway.

It has to be said, that people might not be aware of it. It's not always deliberate.

For example, my old manager at AutoTrader was a bit scared of some of the staff. He was only talking to certain staff about their errors. So maybe he was being bullied in turn. He shouldn't be sitting scared to talk to staff either.

Fact is, at the time I didn't know how to use the boards properly. I hadn't had a proper look around before diving in about my work there. But I don't think he meant to do that neither did the night shift one really.

But bullying is (as I understand it) anything like that which makes people feel scared etc.

As described above.

"Bullying and harassment means any unwanted behaviour that makes someone feel intimidated, degraded, humiliated or offended. It is not necessarily always obvious or apparent to others, and may happen in the workplace without an employer's awareness."

It depends on individuals. Not everyone wants to go to managers or HR etc. I suspect in the large majority of cases it rarely ever gets that far.

"Would you mind not doing that?" etc etc.

halfnelson - 11 Apr 2019 18:48:53 (#9 of 17)

Does she have a union rep, fender? That may be a good place to start.

StephanieSuperpowers - 11 Apr 2019 20:14:27 (#10 of 17)

The other thing to do is start noting incidents. For behaviour to constitute bullying, I think there probably needs to be a pattern of behaviour so it's good to establish a record.

AltCee - 11 Apr 2019 20:23:35 (#11 of 17)

Is your friend a mumsnetter? There are at least 3 very knowledgeable posters on Employment Issues. One's an employment solicitor and one works in HR.

There's one of the good posters in action on this thread but not sure if it is relevant to your friend's situation:

fenderstrat - 12 Apr 2019 08:30:10 (#12 of 17)

Thank you, kind posters.

No union; other advice passed on. She will be meeting with her manager today to ask for advice and request that a record of the incident that broke the camel's back be recorded somehow.

Leftie - 13 Apr 2019 12:17:39 (#13 of 17)

I bumped into an old colleague who had been bullied in a previous job and her boyfriend told her to start keeping a diary of the bullying. I don't know who much use it is but it can't do any harm.

pranzingfrogg - 13 Apr 2019 13:53:21 (#14 of 17)

It helps with the fact finding and establishing a pattern, I think, Leftie. If the bullying behaviour goes on over a couple of months, say, it can be hard to remember later on when and where things happened, or who said what.

On the other hand, If you can tell the investigator/mediator or whoever it is “On 15 March at 10 am, X bullied me by saying Y or doing Z”, then it’s back to X to explain themselves.

And of course a bullying manager might not have started out that way - in one case I heard of, the manager himself was effectively being bullied into “being firmer with the staff”, and went over the top. Any evidence as back up to memory is a good idea though in many cases it will still be one person’s word against another’s.

Leftie - 15 Apr 2019 13:41:38 (#15 of 17)

Yes, I suppose it helps the person remember what's happened. But the other person (people) could still deny it.

pranzingfrogg - 15 Apr 2019 18:22:46 (#16 of 17)

Well yes, but you have to start somewhere. And if your diary entry mentions a potential witness - “When X bullied me by saying/doing Y, Z was present” - it may bolster your case. Of course, Z might not want to get involved, but even so you’re no worse off.

Leftie - 16 Apr 2019 13:23:14 (#17 of 17)


Check Subscriptions
Home » Notes and Queries