I found this infographic from Safe Work on workplace bullying and thought it would be important to share. As you can see, the prevalence of workplace bullying is shocking. Over the past decade, serious workplace injuries related to bullying and harassment have nearly doubled in Australia. In the last 5 years alone, there has been a 75% increase in mental injury work cover claims. This trend is expected to continue, with an expected 9.5% increase in claims this financial year. Workplace bulling is not only hurting those who are affected, it is also costing Australian organisations between $6 billion and $36 billion a year through lost productivity, absenteeism, poor morale and time spent documenting and defending claims.
So what exactly is “workplace bullying”?
The most common definition of workplace bullying that I found is;
“Repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards an employee or group of employees, that creates a risk to health and safety.”
But what this might look like for the target of bullying can vary greatly. You may have experienced one, or many of the following examples of workplace bullying, and some you may not have even realised were classed as bullying:
- singling someone out and treating them differently from others
- withholding information, supervision, consultation, training or resources deliberately to prevent someone doing their job
- setting unreasonable timelines or constantly changing deadlines
- spreading misinformation or malicious rumours
- changing work arrangements, such as rosters and leave, to deliberately inconvenience someone
- setting tasks that are unreasonably below or above someone’s skill level
- refusing annual leave, sick leave, and especially compassionate leave without reasonable grounds
- humiliating, shouting at or threatening someone
- abusive, insulting or offensive language or comments (including belittling, demeaning or patronising someone, especially in front of others)
Being the target of this behaviour in the workplace can have significant impacts on your mental health and life, including;
- depression, anxiety, panic attacks, sleep disturbance and/or feelings of distress
- physical illness, such as muscular tension, headaches and digestive problems
- reduced work performance
- loss of self-esteem and feelings of isolation
- deteriorating relationships with colleagues, family and friends
If you are being bullied in the workplace, there are some things you can do.
- Keep a record of every instance of bullying. It can be really hard to recall memories and specifics of bullying, especially when it is happening often and is distressing. It’s really important to keep an accurate record of all evidence of bullying. Keeping a diary of incidents, printing out emails and keeping a copy of your organisation’s workplace bullying and harassment policies can help build a legal case against a workplace bully.
Make a note of:
- the date and time
- who is treating you badly
- exactly what they’re doing or saying
- where it happened
- who else was there – it’s helpful if you have a co-worker who can back you up
- how it made you feel
It’s also important to report the bullying, if possible. It is much harder for an employer to deny any accounts of bullying if there is clear evidence that they were informed about it and failed to take action.
- You may be eligible to make a claim for workers’ compensation with WorkCover (or a self-insurer). There are several ways you can do this:
- Get in contact with your respective Union and let them know what’s been going on. If you’re unsure who your Union is, contact Australian Unions who can guide you in the right direction: Which is the union for you? – Australian Unions
- Another step you can take is to apply to the Fair Work Commission to stop the bullying. Check out more information here and to see if you are eligible: What to do if you’re bullied at work | Fair Work Commission (fwc.gov.au)