Workplace Bullying: Time to face up to the issue

January 26, 2016

Over the years it has become evident that workplace bullying is still a large issue within companies. A recent publication from Acas has stated that the Acas helpline alone receives a considerable 20,000 calls per year in relation to workplace bullying. This publication corroborates with the TUC research in November 2015 which stated that nearly one third (29%) of staff reported to have fallen victim of workplace bullying.

Definition of the term Workplace bullying in a dictionary

What does this mean for companies?
With workplace bullying not only causing the employee to be uncomfortable within their work environment but also being an underlying cause for stress and anxiety, this can have long term effects on victims’ mental and physical health. In 2007 the economic impact of workplace bullying was measured in regards to absenteeism and loss of productivity, this was estimated at £13.75 billion! The TUC research found that nearly half (46%) of those who suffered bullying had said it had inversely affected their work performance and 22% had stated that bullying had forced them to take time of work.

Difficulties HR Professionals currently face:
With people having differing views on what constitutes bullying, the task of measuring and addressing the problem is increasingly difficult. Also the effectiveness of prevention techniques put in place by HR professionals are limited by organisation structure, with junior levels finding it difficult to uphold a bully complaint against a senior manager. However this does not mean that it should be swept under the rug! With benefits for both employees and companies it is time to take a stand to prevent work place bullying.

The HR Guide to preventing bullying in the workplace:

  1. Employ a zero tolerance policy: however do not keep this policy filled away! Share on your internal communications website or alternatively display on your notice boards.
  2. Recommend staff to keep a diary of any workplace bullying they are exposed to. This will assist in any investigations and will provide more detailed information on any bullying occurring.
  3. Promote informal discussions when appropriate. Allowing informal discussions will help both the victims in feeling more comfortable in reporting workplace bullying but it may also reduce tribunal costs incurred from following formal procedures. However remember to undertake formal discussions when early resolutions do not work!
  4. Provide proactive training for all staff underlining the zero tolerance policy towards bullying. Also it can be suggested that a form of training should be provided to managers on the skills necessary to follow a grievance process.
  5. A different approach is to provide confidential internal helplines. By giving the opportunity for employees to discuss any problems on a confidential basis this will assist in reducing the organisation structure barrier to reporting workplace bullying.
  6. Regularly send out anonymous internal questionnaires. This will help your company create a greater understanding of any underlying problems and can strategies to be tailored to your individual business.

These are just a few suggestions. Workplace bullying is not a problem to be taken lightly, let’s take a stand and make 2016 the year that we see change!

Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.

Why not join our mailing list...




  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.