Psychological workplace risks, meaning workplace factors that can cause stress, such as bullying and harassment, have increasingly become generally acknowledged as global issues, affecting all countries, professions and workers.
Today, we will discuss about workplace or office bullying and how to manage various situations associated with this matter.
The Impact of Bullying and Stress on Workers
Based on an interview study conducted on the subject, the harassed workers portrayed symptoms such as nervousness, irritability, chronic fatigue, insomnia, tension, memory problems, physical pains, aggression, depression, and self-hatred.
This study presented a comprehensive description of the health damaging effects of bullying or harassment at work. Additionally, there is a British study in 70 organisations that found a strong correlation between frequency of bullying and physical and mental well-being; slightly more among men than among women.
For example, women reported more symptoms than men, yet men reacted more strongly to persistent criticism of work and effort, being ignored and attempts to find faults. On the other hand, women reacted more to negative acts such as hints that they should quit their job, pressure not to claim something to which they were entitled, having allegations made against them and repeated reminders of mistakes.
In turn, the constant bullying, harassment, and stress on workers demonstrated consequences such as reduced self-confidence, low self-worth, shyness, an increased sense of vulnerability as well as feelings of guilt and self-contempt.
After the onset of bullying, workers had developed psychological and psychosomatic symptoms. They developed problems such as inability to concentrate, mood swings, anxiety, sleep problems, fear and depressive symptoms, headaches, respiratory and cardiac complaints, hypertension and hypersensitivity to sounds, and many more. Moreover, some workers had chronic diseases which have high chances to get worse.
Signs and Solutions for Workplace Bullying
There are various terms which are used by different countries for hostile behavior like bullying. Moral harassment, psychological violence, mobbing, work or employee abuse, mistreatment, emotional abuse, bossing, victimization, intimidation, psychological terrorization, moral and power harassment are the terms often used to describe this behavior.
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Laws, regulations, codes, and guidelines on workplace bullying, harassment, violence, and discrimination may come under the authority of a variety of departments or agencies as these issues address not only health and safety risks, but touch on the human resources, legal, and human rights, criminal behaviour, and public health realms as well.
Some examples of workplace bullying are the following:
Described as “systematic collective violence” and it “typically involves a group of workers ganging up on a target worker and subjecting that person to psychological harassment”. It can be expressed in many different actions such as singling out and isolating the victimized worker, depriving him or her from social activities, or spreading false information or acts of defamation.
Discrimination and harrassment
It is often referred to as unequal treatment of an individual or class/group, based on certain protected characteristics like age, race, disability, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or family status and always predicated on a person being a member of protected category, more likely based on a status-blind harassment.
This is mostly determined by the work organization, work design, and labor relations. This happens when the demands of the job don’t match or exceed the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker or vice versa.
Based on the book, “Bully at Work”, bullying is a multifaceted problem that requires multidisciplinary solutions:
- Behavioural and organizational researchers
- Mental health practitioners
- Legal resources
- Organized labor
- Employee advocates
- Management and Human Resources
- Dispute-resolution specialists
In this section, we provide you some effective ways to help yourself or others cope with workplace bullying and regain their dignity at work based on some references:
- 1. Keep in mind and remember that people make mistakes. Take a moment to size up the situation and determine if the “bullying” was simply a one-time incident due to someone having a bad day. If yes, then consider letting it go and moving on.
- 2. Take care of yourself, be courageous, and develop an action plan to address the concern.
- 3. Come up with a plan of how you are going to address the bullying concern and be sure to include its impacts on productivity, well-being, and morale coupled with some possible solutions.
- 4. Practice having healthy emotional boundaries that keep you from reacting or feeling bad about yourself when workplace bullying occurs. So, don’t always take bullying personally.
- 5. Speak up and stand your ground when communicating with a bully. Show that you are strong and persistent.
- 6. Consider new opportunities with other companies if the problem still exists.
- 7. Always write and document everything that relates to your interactions with the bully which enables your to have a timeline of events and will help you later on in recalling information when necessary.
Whether it exists at school or at work, bullying is a complex phenomenon that has increasingly become a major societal problem in many countries and it greatly affects many people and companies in various aspects. Remember to take care of yourself and focus on the positive things that you can do to face this matter. Let us help empower each other to face the issue.
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