What is Bullying in the Workplace?

Bullying in the Workplace

You may think that workplace bullying is rare, but according to a recent survey, approximately 30% of workers have current or past direct experience with abusive work conduct. Here we pride ourselves on our inclusive and respectful working environment. If you or a colleague experience behavior that undermines your dignity, you have a duty to do something about it.

What Is Bullying?
Workplace bullying can take many forms and doesn’t need to involve physical violence. It may be a manager shouting abuse at a team member, or someone spreading malicious rumors behind a colleague’s back. Bullying is any repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators. It can be verbal abuse or any abusive conduct that threatens, humiliates, or intimidates. It is work interference—sabotage—which prevents work from getting done.

Examples include:

  •  Undermining a colleague’s work
  •  Threatening physical abuse
  •  Withholding necessary information to help a colleague succeed or giving wrong information to a colleague on purpose
  •  Spying on or pestering someone
  •  Assigning an unreasonable workload to a single person or group of people (not based on a protected class)
  •  Yelling or using profanity
  •  Creating a sense of uselessness
  •  Persistently criticizing a colleague or constantly humiliating a colleague
  •  Belittling a colleague’s opinions or tampering with a colleague’s equipment
  • Unwarranted or undeserved punishment

If You Are a Victim…
If you feel that you are the victim of bullying, such as physical violence or verbal abuse, you should report it immediately.

Experiences Shared
These people have agreed to share their experiences in this area.


“My line manager singled me out for criticism almost every day. I lost confidence and started to perform badly, so she criticized me even more! Eventually, I plucked up courage to report her behavior. I was moved to a different team and now I’m thriving!”


“Two colleagues used to criticize my dress sense. When I became upset, they said, “Hey, can’t you take a joke?” I became so unhappy, I resigned. My manager begged me to stay. I was his highest performer, but I’d had enough. Where I work now, we respect each other.”


“My manager pushed a female team member against a wall because she questioned him in public. The victim was scared to report the manager’s behavior, but the rest of the team encouraged her to and supported her claim. Disciplinary measures were taken against the manager and he was later dismissed.”

Effect of Bullying
Maneesh has been persistently and publicly criticized about his work by a colleague.

What three impacts could this have on Maneesh?

  •  He could lose confidence in his work.
  •  He might work harder; he wouldn’t be criticized if his work was better.
  •  He may not engage or actively involve himself in team meetings.
  •  He may want to leave his team or job due to embarrassment.

Constant public criticism can have an adverse effect on a person’s confidence in their work and may cause them to be less engaged in group activities or team meetings. If you experience or witness bullying, report it.

Stop the Bullying
Maneesh has spoken with the colleague, but she refuses to stop criticizing Maneesh in public. What should Maneesh do?

  •  Report his colleague to a manager or to the Human Resources department.
  •  Nothing; doing something may only make the situation worse.
  •  Publicly criticize his colleague’s work, so she knows how it feels.
  • Speak to the colleague again to make her stop criticizing him.

Thanks for helping Maneesh
If speaking to his colleague doesn’t stop the bullying, Maneesh should report his colleague’s actions to a manager or to the Human Resources department.

  •  Bullying doesn’t always involve raised voices or threats of violence. It can take the form of repeated criticism, or even non-verbal actions such as aggressive body language. Exclusion is also a form of bullying.
  •  The impact of bullying in the workplace is detrimental to the whole organization. It affects our working culture and means we risk losing talent.
  •  Always report instances of bullying. Bullying is never acceptable, and we are committed to ensuring that it doesn’t happen here!

This is content from our Workplace Conduct booklet.

Download our Workplace Conduct booklet.
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