Original article published on LinkedIn 18 July 2021.

We must never tolerate workplace bullying. Workplace bullies are cold, timid souls who rejoice in tearing others down. 

Have you experienced or witnessed workplace bullying?

I’ve worked with a number of clients who have experience of this and it took a lot of support to help them overcome the effects of bullying in the workplace and build their confidence to look for a new job in a happier environment.

workplace bullying, bully, bullies, toxic culture, toxic people

The effects of workplace bullying

Workplace bullying can cause severe anxiety and other mental health issues if not addressed early on. Not only that, it also affects business and productivity.

The Productivity Commission found that bullying at work costs Australian organisations between $6 billion and $36 billion a year in lost productivity.

What is workplace bullying?

According to a University of Wollongong study, workplace bullying is repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker that creates a risk to health and safety.

Repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker that creates a risk to health and safety

The report said this could include verbal abuse and humiliation, social isolation, withholding information and spreading rumours.

The chief executive officer of beyondblue Georgie Harman said, “those who experience and perpetrate workplace bullying have higher rates of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder and health problems such as cardiovascular disease.”

It’s been found that workplace strategies and policies tend to target individuals, including the perpetrator and the victim, rather than the organisation where the bullying may have occurred.

Zero tolerance for negative behaviour

It’s important that businesses empower employees through open communication and not tolerate negative behaviour. Too often people don’t know who they can talk to in a safe environment without the fear of repercussion. What can be done?

If you’ve overcome this type of challenge in the past, please share the strategies that have worked for you in the comments below.

Let’s help those who may be struggling right now. Goodness knows we have all gone through enough with the stresses and uncertainty of Covid-19.

A blessing about working from home, for some, is that you are physically removed from the workplace bully for a while. But what happens when you return to the workplace?

SafeWork Australia has an excellent guide on how to prevent and respond to workplace bullying. Here are some suggestions from their guide:

Develop productive and respectful workplace relationships

Good management practices and effective communication are important in creating a workplace environment that discourages workplace bullying. Examples include:

  • promote positive leadership styles by providing training for managers and supervisors
  • mentor and support new and poor performing managers and workers
  • facilitate teamwork, consultation and co-operation
  • ensure that reasonable management actions are clearly defined, articulated and understood by workers and supervisors, and
  • ensure supervisors act in a timely manner on unreasonable behaviour they see or become aware of. 

I recorded a podcast episode on this topic. Listen to ‘How to Handle Workplace Bullies’ in episode 147 of Your Career Podcast (and you can subscribe to my YouTube channel for regular career support and inspiration). 

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”


What are your thoughts? Please comment below.

About Jane

For over 20 years Jane has been supporting executives through the emotional roller coaster of a career change, redundancy and job search. She is a LinkedIn Top Voice 2020, Excellence in Practice Award recipient from the Career Development Association of Australia (CDAA), author of Navigating Career Crossroads (finalist in The Australian Career Book Awards 2021) and host of Your Career Podcast (voted top 20 career podcast by FeedSpot).

Follow Jane on Instagram and Twitter

For coaching support please visit The Careers Academy

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