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Bullying is a serious issue in workplaces across Australia and a risk factor for anxiety, depression and suicide.
Bullying isn't just an issue for managers to deal with behind closed doors. Everyone in the workplace has a role to play when it comes to spotting and calling out inappropriate behaviour.
We all have the right to work in a safe, bully-free workplace, but on the flipside is our responsibility to ensure our workmates enjoy that same rights.
It feels good to have people care about you, right?! Check in with your workmates and let them know you're there to help.
Things would be pretty boring if we were all the same. It goes without saying, but being respectful of others (and getting the same back in return) helps make any workplace a more positive place.
Pull up anyone being disrespectful in the workplace. Be a leader and give your workmates the confidence to speak up too.
Make sure you understand expectations around appropriate and inappropriate workplace behaviour, and act accordingly.
Many people who are bullied think that as long as they avoid the person who is bullying them, or if they just don't respond to the bullying, it might go away. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case.
One of the best things you can do is talk to someone in the workplace that you trust. They can provide an objective perspective and may offer views or options that you hadn't considered. Having a support person to help you through the situation is also really useful. This might be your workplace HR officer, a manager or a trusted workmate.
Check whether your workplace has a bullying policy and reporting procedure. Your supervisor, manager or HR officer will be able to tell you about what's in place.
If you feel safe and comfortable doing so, calmly tell the other person you object to their behaviour and ask them to stop. This also gives the person an opportunity to change their behaviour if they weren't aware it was causing distress. You could ask for support from your health and safety representative, union representative or supervisor.
You can report workplace bullying by:
Ensure your records include the names of the people involved, including any witnesses. Focus on the facts including what happened, when it happened, what you did to try and stop it (if anything) and any evidence (i.e. emails, social media posts).
If you're unable to resolve a bullying situation internally, a number of organisations can help
If you have been a target of workplace bullying and you feel that your health and wellbeing is being affected, make an appointment to talk to your doctor or counsellor, or contact the Beyond Blue Support Service.
If you have been assaulted or fear for your physical safety, you may want to consider contacting the police.
When we see a workmate being mistreated, we'd all like to think that we'd step in and tell the person to stop. However, it's not always that simple. You might not feel comfortable intervening if the person behaving badly is in a senior position, for example - you may feel powerless or worry about how it might affect you. But even if you don't say anything directly or immediately, you shouldn't remain a silent witness.
Here's what you can do to help:
Unfortunately, many people will encounter bullying at work. It's up to everyone in the workplace to take a stand, to prevent it happening again or to somebody else.
Being accused of bullying can be upsetting and comes as a shock for some people. It's important to be open to feedback from others, and to be prepared to change your behaviour.
If someone approaches you about your behaviour, try to remain calm. Listen carefully and ask questions if you're unclear about anything that has caused offence or you think there's been a misunderstanding.
Apologise and - here's the most important bit - stop the behaviour that's causing the issue. You might think it's 'only a joke' or that the other person should be able to 'handle it', but the reality is that you're causing offence and distress.
If you believe you're being unfairly accused, you should discuss this with your manager or HR officer. In many cases, an informal discussion between you, the person making the allegation and a third party will resolve the issue.
Being accused of bullying can be stressful and may affect your health and wellbeing. Talking to someone confidentially can help. Employee Assistance Programs (if your workplace has one) are a good place to start, or check in with a counsellor or your GP.
Chapter 2 of Safe Work Australia's Dealing with workplace bullying - a worker's guide has more information on what to do if you're accused of workplace bullying.
Learn more about workplace bullying