Bullying is traditionally associated with high school and the teenagers’ behaviours. However, bullying is still present in the workplace. Bullying in the workplace takes many different forms but it should be recognised for what it is. And more importantly, it should not be tolerated.
You need to take action right away if you are a victim of bullying at work or feel that some of your colleagues are being bullied. The best thing to do is to go to a supervisor to inform them of the situation. If your superiors are responsible for the bullying or choose to look the other way, there are a few cases in which you can take legal action against them. For instance, you could report harassment or violence but you are not protected by law against a generally hostile work environment.
Did you know that New Zealand is one of the worst countries in the developed world for people being bullied in the workplace? According to a research finding in 2010 over 20% of Kiwis claimed they were bullied at work. Legal action is not taken in most cases and most employers simply do not know how to deal with bullies. You should know that you are not alone if you are dealing with bullying. You should also know that the bullying is not your fault. A lot of bullied people tend to think that they deserve to be treated that way and decide not to take action.
If you cannot do anything from a legal point of view against your bullies, the best thing you can do is get some help from people in the same situation. If there are a few bullies in your workplace, chances are you are not the only one who is mistreated by them. Pay attention to the way employees interact with each other. If someone does not seem to fit in or always look depressed, they are probably encountering bullying as well. Talk to them and let them know you are dealing with the same thing.
You should also talk to your supervisor, HR representative or to a workplace counselor if you have one. HR representatives and supervisors do not always respond to workplace bullying in an efficient manner but it does not hurt to draw their attention to this issue. A workplace counselor can help you adopt the right attitude to face your bullies.
If you cannot get any help from your colleagues or supervisors, you should know there are plenty of resources available to you online. Connecting with people in a similar situation through message boards will give you an opportunity to share your experience. Knowing that you are not the only one dealing with bullying should make things easier and give you the courage you need to stand up to your bullies.
Confronting your bullies is not easy but it is your best option if your supervisors are looking the other way. You should not confront your bullies in a violent manner. Refuse to comply the next time they bully you into doing something or let them know you are not scared of their threats. Most bullies back out very quickly when faced with someone who is ready to stand up to them. If you are not comfortable with facing your bullies alone, ask some of the other bullied employees to help you.
Being bullied in the workplace is a very unpleasant experience and makes work a lot more stressful than it should be. You should speak up about your situation and stand up to your bullies.
In New Zealand people are protected by law under The Human Rights Act. This means that companies must create a secure workplace for their staff. This includes not only physical hazards as a result of the type of work but also reducing exposure to psychological harm.
If you are being bullied or someone you know is suffering, then talk to your HR people in the first instance. If that does not provide a solution for you then you are at liberty to seek legal redress. Employment law is strong in NZ so you may have some powerful legal support on your side. Look for an employment lawyer in Albany and they will be able to give you advice on the merits of your case. McVeagh Fleming is one of the most respected law firms in the area. You can find out more about them here.