bullying in the workplace includes gossiping

When Enough is Enough: Dealing with Bullying in the Workplace

For us working professionals, we spend a huge amount of our waking time at work. Whether we are working from home, remotely, or on-site, we are at work for at least 8 hours a day. For those hours that we are exerting our effort and doing our tasks diligently, it would not be helpful if we will be put in a stressful situation and be forced to have a hard time. Much are not aware of it, but sometimes there are cases where bullying in the workplace takes place.

So, what are some telltale signs of workplace bullying and how we can manage bullying in the workplace? Read on to know more.

What is Workplace Bullying?

Workplace bullying is defined as persistent or repeated action or actions toward an employee or a group of employees that are often characterized by mistreatment, which leads to intimidation along with other negative effects on the employee being bullied. Oftentimes, bullying in the workplace involves abuse or misuse of power. The person being bullied often feels defenseless and feels as if their dignity at work is in question.

Workplace bullying does not only happen once, but on multiple occasions. It is usually composed of repeated actions or attacks toward a target laced with verbal and personal attacks, humiliation, belittling, and sometimes exclusion. Not only does bullying in the workplace affect the well-being of the employees, it can also affect their performance and productivity. More often than not, an employee who experiences bullying also has their health compromised.

Bullying in the workplace not only happens between a superior and their subordinate; it can also happen between colleagues and peers. In some cases, it is characterized by subtle abusive actions, making the detection of signs of workplace bullying all the more challenging.

signs of workplace bullying include micromanagement

Bullying vs Harassment

Bullying and harassment are both unacceptable practices and shouldn’t be experienced by anyone. Here are some differences between the two.

  • Usually, workplace bullying penetrates psychologically. On the other hand, workplace harassment oftentimes manifests physically, including invasion of personal and physical space and damage to belongings.
  • Since bullying often happens psychologically and not physically, the victim sometimes does not realize that they are already being bullied. With harassment, the victim and usually those around them can tell that one is being harassed.
  • Targets of bullying are often seen as a threat whereas victims of harassment are often characterized as being easy to victimize.
  • It is much easier to recognize harassment than bullying since most of the time, bullies do not let their victims realize that they are being bullied.
  • While strict laws and codes of conduct are in place to prevent harassment, there are unfortunately no such mandates that address bullying in the workplace. Without laws and policies in place, victims of bullying often feel powerless and cannot report to the management.
  • It is very much easy to conceal the signs of workplace bullying. On the contrary, harassment tends to be more vulgar.

Negative Effects of Workplace Bullying

There are no positives when it comes to bullying in the workplace. In fact, there are only damage and negative effects when a company tolerates and does not recognize the signs of workplace bullying. Let’s take a closer look.

Effects on the Employees

The signs of workplace bullying manifest even when you are already at home or way past beyond your work hours. To the employees being bullied, there are negative effects that happen even after you clock out. It can contribute to the decline of well-being of an employee. Because of workplace bullying, an individual may experience heightened stress, especially during work hours when they are in close proximity to the bully. Even when this individual has already clocked out, they can still experience stress alongside anxiety and tension. Their health might even be compromised.

A bullied employee might experience a loss of appetite and inability to have a peaceful sleep. These might also lead to major health problems if not addressed. Aside from that, their productivity and focus are also hindered when they experience bullying in the workplace. An employee who experiences the signs of workplace bullying might also choose not to go to work in order to not interact with their bullies.

To the employees not victimized but witness firsthand workplace bullying, they are not spared from the negative effects of workplace bullying. They might also feel anxious knowing that they might be victims as well in the future. They might feel that they are not safe and secure in their workplaces. Aside from that, they might feel stressed not knowing what to do to help their colleague being bullied since most of the time they are also afraid that they will be bullied as well.

Effects on the Company

If it goes unrecognized or brushed off by the management and the company, bullying in the workplace can have a damaging effect on the company. Productivity tends to go down and it might be hard for the company to reach their goals. The company might also experience a high turnover rate since a lot of their employees may opt to resign from their posts than endure bullying, whether firsthand or not.

When mass exodus happens, one can expect that a snowball effect wherein future employees would think twice of joining the company, fearing that they might experience the harrowing culture that they have. This would then affect the employment rate, given that potential employees will choose not to push through with their employment with a company that neglects the signs of workplace bullying.

Finally, the company will have a tarnished reputation and they might feel repercussions long term. Law enforcements might also get involved and might cost the company their financial resources and other intangible assets as well.

stress at work

Signs of Workplace Bullying

There are subtle and obvious signs of workplace bullying. Although there are differences in their manifestation, both are very damaging for the employees and also to the company they work for.

Subtle Signs

  • Manipulation – A workplace bully might be able to manipulate you to do their work for them and, in worse cases, take the credit for the job that you did.
  • Being monitored excessively – Being monitored with no proper justification can be another subtle sign of workplace bullying. Closely monitoring an employee and micromanaging them often times happen when a superior is bullying an employee. This can also happen when the management gangs and a peer mob up against an employee. 
  • Exclusion or isolation – Making an employee feel left out is also a sign of workplace bullying. Some examples are physical isolation, excluding them from conversations and work-related and non-work related events.
  • Intimidation – This can come in forms of threats or any type of communication that illicit fear to the victim.
  • Deceit – Deliberately not telling the truth to a victim is a sign of workplace bullying. For example, a superior has lied about the management’s feedback regarding the employee’s work to make the employee feel ashamed and criticized.
  • Diversion – Especially when there are issues at hand that need to be addressed, not providing a solution to the concern is also a subtle sign of workplace bullying.
  • Shaming and gaslighting – Gaslighting an employee of their capabilities and making them ashamed at work is also another example.
  • Creating unnecessary drama and competition – Pitting employees against each other and creating drama in the workplace is a form of workplace bullying.
  • Imposing impossible expectations – When a superior imposes impossible expectations and makes the employee feel bad, if they don’t achieve it is also one.
  • Constant change and inconsistency – Being inconsistent with the decisions in the workplace that results in less productivity and inefficiency of an employee is another subtle sign of workplace bullying.

Obvious Signs

  • Aggression – This may be shown physically or verbally.
  • Embarrassment – Degrading and humiliating an employee in front of other colleagues are some obvious signs of workplace bullying.
  • Coercion – Forcing an employee to do something that they don’t want to do is already bullying.
  • Blocking advancement and growth – When someone hinders an employee’s growth and advancement by not informing of them of opportunities or by not allowing them to engage in activities that will help them grow, that is also considered as bullying.
  • Offensive communication – Spreading rumors, using profanity, and subjecting an employee to demeaning jokes are some examples.

What to Do If You’re Being Bullied at Work

It’s never too late to stand your ground and take action. If you feel that you are being bullied or you have witnessed any signs of workplace bullying, you can do something about it.

First step that you can do, if you are in the right headspace to do so, is to ask them to stop. If ever you are unable to speak to your bully, or after you have spoken to them, you also have to report to human resources.

Another thing that you can do is to keep evidences of the actions made against you. This may include emails, footages, photos, and the like. If possible, try to limit your interactions with your bully. You may ask to be transferred to a different team or workstation. Inform yourself of the company policies in place against bullying. Do not be afraid to get support from a colleague that you trust or have an external support system.

Lastly, you can also get help from other agencies and authorities if you feel that your company is not doing anything about your situation.

professional young multiracial team working together

Work in a Safe Space Free from Bullying in the Workplace

Here at FilWeb Asia, you become part of a healthy and supportive work environment the moment you start your career journey. You can have a healthy work-life balance free from any signs of bullying in the workplace! Instead, we are deeply focused on creating a collaborative ecosystem that encourages our employees to achieve their career goals. What are you waiting for? Start your fulfilling career with FilWeb Asia Inc. today!