Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace


As this week is Anti-Bullying Week, it is a perfect opportunity to ensure your company communicate effectively to your workforce that bullying in the workplace will not be tolerated. If you feel like you or your business needs support on how to tackle bullying in the workplace, this blog is for you.

The TUC reports that “nearly a third of employees are bullied at work”. This is a staggering statistic especially in the era of mental health awareness being on the rise. One of the main ways in which we can become more aware regarding the impact of bullying in the workplace is highlighting what this might look like. Bullying can go unnoticed if it starts out as something such as not taking your employees ideas into account on purpose, however this may slowly increase over time. It is therefore essential to stop any form of bullying in its tracks before it amounts a grievance or worse, an employment tribunal claim.

Here are some examples of how bullying can manifest itself at work:

  • Spreading malicious rumours in the workplace;
  • Being treated unfairly, being excluded or being picked up on performance when it’s unwarranted;
  • Being picked on or being undermined regularly;
  • Being denied of training or promotion opportunities for no fair reason;
  • Being dismissive;
  • Micromanaging;
  • Shouting or being aggressive;
  • Socially excluding someone on purpose;
  • Nasty comments whether because of a protected characterise like age race or sex or simply how they look etc;
  • Trying to undermine or humiliate someone.

If anyone complains of any of the above, you should take this seriously and investigate thoroughly.

TUC also reports that “nearly half (46%) of employees interviewed state that it has an adverse impact on their performance at work, and the same proportion believe it has had a negative effect on their mental health.” Making someone feel isolated or targeted at work is not only a form of bullying but shouldn’t be tolerated in any workplace as it can seriously impact on someone mental health. All members of staff have the responsibility to report any signs of bullying or harassment they see to their line manager or to their HR department so the matter can be resolved as swiftly and amicably as possible. You can also ensure that all your staff are trained regarding such measures to deal with the issues promptly and effectively.

It cannot be emphasised enough regarding the importance of employees knowing they have someone in the workplace that they can approach whenever they feel their mental health or performance at work is being impacted by someone or something at work, in line with bullying or any other situation. This may be the HR department or respective line managers; however, this can also be Mental Health First Aiders or champions, if present within your workplace who can support the person who has been bullied.

If you are considering training your staff on Mental Health First Aid in the workplace, this will prove extremely beneficial in times of crisis, as the effects of bullying can be irreversible to your mental health. We are running our next MHFA course in February.

“I feel empowered and equipt to help people with their mental health symptoms”

Bullying in the workplace can lead to a less productive and unhappy workforce which isn’t ideal for any employer or employee! It inevitably leads to absences; lowers productivity levels, leading to less work being done and may eventually involve time and money being spent on recruitment, training, lengthy processes internally and ultimately, employment tribunal cases.

Tips for Employers:


  1. Have clear and robust policies and procedures

Bullying and harassment may not always be obvious, and an employee may be oblivious that it is even happening to them. It is important for an employer to be fully aware regarding what happens in their workplace and within their workforce to avoid any potential claims arising and to react accordingly if any complaints do arise.

It is very important that your make your staff aware of their options when dealing with harassment.

  1. Take complaints of bullying seriously and investigate promptly

Always seek advice if you aren’t sure and conduct the investigation as thoroughly and quickly as possible to minimise the impact on those involved.

Always comply with your own policies when it comes to timescales too.

  1. Consider mental health of both the employee who has complained and the alleged perpetrator

Whilst most allegations will be genuine always consider the impact of a complaint on all parties involved, even witnesses who may feel vulnerable at work having to ‘take sides.

Offer support throughout and consider reasonable adjustments, where appropriate.

We can assist by drafting Anti-Bullying and Harassment policies for your workplace, which will make clear to employers what behaviours are acceptable and what is unacceptable. Please see our HR services for all that we offer and don’t hesitate to get in touch to see how Thrive can help you.

Tips for Employees:


  1. Keep a record of everything

As soon as you feel you may be being bullied keep a diary so you can refer to this and start to collate evidence before submitting a complaint.  It makes it much easier to investigate.

It’s helpful to make a note of how it made you feel and if there were witnesses too.

  1. Raise a complaint as soon as possible

If you delay too long many of the incidents could be seen to be out of time if you then have to go to tribunal so raise them within 3 months where possible.

It’s understandable that bullying and harassment can be very distressing to have to experience and employees don’t always have the confidence to raise this or make a complaint. Your harasser could be a colleague or even your manager, but this isn’t something you are expected you deal with as part of your job. Your employer has a duty of care to protect your welfare and if you were to raise a complaint, they are obliged to handle this in the correct way.

What can you do?

Unfortunately, many employees who have experience bullying and harassment feel they have no choice but to leave their jobs, but we are here to inform you of the options available to you and your legal rights if you need to act.

  • We would advise to try and resolve this informally if it is safe to do so.
  • We can help you to raise a grievance with your employer
  • We can assist you in your resignation (and a possible constructive dismissal claim if you have grounds to pursue this).
  • We can assist you in negotiating a settlement agreement.

If you would like to speak to a member of our team about any of our services or if you have experience bullying and harassment at work, please contact us.

Written by the Thrive Tribe

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