The Task Force on the Prevention of Workplace Bullying defined bullying as: “Repeated inappropriate behaviour, direct or indirect – whether verbal, physical or otherwise –conducted by one or more persons against another or others at the place of work or in the course of employment – which could reasonably be regarded as undermining the individual’s right to dignity at work.”

The definition of harassment outlined in the Equality Act 2004 provides further clarification of the term, “dignity” – when it states that behaviour and conduct which violates the dignity of a person does so by failing to consider that person and by "creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the person."


What forms does bullying take?

Physical violence is one of the more obvious and extreme examples of bullying. But it can also take more subtle forms in the workplace, including: humiliation, intimidation and verbal abuse, victimisation, exclusion and isolation, intrusion or pestering, spying and stalking, repeated unreasonable assignments to duties that are obviously unfavourable to an individual;  repeated requests giving impossible deadlines or impossible tasks; and taking credit but not blame.

 

What are the effects of bullying?
Bullying behaviour can have a devastating impact on an individual and his/her immediate family. This may involve physical, psychological and behavioural effects on individuals and families – and even on organisations and communities. In some cases, these effects may even be life-threatening – where a victim may be driven to attempt suicide.

Among the health problems reported by victims of bullying are: headache, fatigue, nausea, sleeplessness, post­traumatic stress disorder, irritable bowel syndrome, depression; loss of self-esteem, lack of motivation and irritated/distracted behaviour.

Effects on employments – where staff are bullied  – may include increased absenteeism, low employee morale; loss of job satisfaction; reduced productivity; negative publicity for the employer; and diversion of management time and energy into seeking settlements of bullying cases.
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