‘Change starts with us’
November 11th 2019 marks the start of a week-long anti-bullying campaign by the Anti-Bullying Alliance. It’s theme this year is ‘change starts with us’, and we feel very strongly that this message is extremely important, and relevant – not just within schools, but also within the workplace.
Our hope at Public Practice Recruitment Ltd, is that campaigns like this will bring about a cultural change, breaking the cycle for young people. So that when they enter the workplace, any bullying behaviour encountered will be challenged by individuals feeling empowered enough to address the issue of bullying head on.
There’s no doubt that bullying can negatively impact a childhood, and clearly school should be made a safe environment. But while we are clear on what would constitute bullying at school, and in agreement that all forms of bullying should not be tolerated, what are our views on bullying in the workplace? What is workplace bullying and harassment? Why does it happen? And what can you do if you feel it’s happening to you?
What is bullying in the workplace?
According to ACAS, workplace bullying is characterised as ‘offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient’.
Worryingly, a report by Slater & Gordon on UK staff bullying revealed that more than a third of those surveyed had been victims of bullying in the workplace.
Bullying and harassment is not limited to physical and verbal abuse. Examples of bullying might include refusing training or blocking promotion, spreading rumours about a person, removing responsibilities without reason, constantly changing work guidelines and creating impossible deadlines. Any of these forms of bullying can be made face-to-face, by letter, email or by phone.
Why does this happen?
Quite simply, employers define your work conditions, the environment and the culture. So, the buck most definitely stops here.
In a world where budgets are tight and competition is fierce, employees can be pitted against each other – creating a destructive environment. In situations like this, there can only be few winners. The bullies are rewarded with promotion, and the abuse cycle continues.
In some cases, lack of awareness or involvement by senior management can be a part of the problem. Also, organisational changes and restructuring can lead to uncertainty and work overload – which in turn can cause a rise in incidents of bullying in the workplace.
It’s also important to note here, that research shows that it is not the shy, sensitive introverts who are targets of harassment. More likely it is the outgoing high achievers who are causing envy amongst their colleagues.
What can you do about it?
Whatever the reason for bullying, change can only be achieved by employers making a stand and shaking up the workplace culture.
Under the Equality Act 2010, harassment is unlawful and employers are responsible for preventing bullying, and liable for any harassment suffered by their employees.
If you feel you are being bullied, you should arrange an informal chat with your manager, HR department or trade union representative. And if this does not resolve the issue, make a formal complaint using your employer’s grievance procedure.
Sadly, it is often the case that some employers do not recognise bullying and harassment in the workplace. And many employees offer their talents instead to an employer who has considered the culture within the workplace and has clear, robust policies and anti-bullying strategies in place to protect them.
Garry Howling, Managing Director at Public Practice Recruitment Ltd says, “The good news is that there are plenty of employers within the accountancy sector who will ensure you are protected from workplace bullying and harassment, and treated with the respect you deserve. Any company worth their salt will be happy to share their policies with you before you agree any job offer.”
You can submit your CV to Public Practice Recruitment Ltd and search for a new role here today.
We support #AntiBullyingWeek and if you feel the same, you can find out more here.
As specialist accountancy recruiters, we know how candidates think – how their minds work. When it comes to all aspects of the accountant recruitment process, we’re the experts – always here to help.
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