FIFO Focus joins Big Al as part of the REDFM series FIFO Life.
In part 6, FIFO Focus’ Senior Consultant Sharon Rudderham talks about bullying and how it can effect FIFO workers.
Bullying in the Workplace
Have you ever experienced threatening or aggressive behaviour in the workplace? Have you been teased or been the butt of practical jokes? Has this happened more than once? If you answered yes, chances are you may have been bullied by someone you work with.
What does Bullying look like in the workplace?
According to Fair Work Australia (FWA) bullying is where an individual or a group repeatedly act unreasonably towards a person or a group which creates a risk to health and safety.
Bullying covers a wide range of behaviours which can be in person or via phone, email, text messages or other social media channels. Generally it occurs at work, however may extend beyond the workplace and outside normal working hours. A single incident of unreasonable behaviour is not bullying however could escalate so shouldn’t be ignored.
It is important to be aware of and look out for some of the common tactics that bullies use such as:
- Aggressive behaviour including verbal threats or physical assault
- Inappropriate or offensive language
- Unjustified criticism or complaints
- Intimidating, berating, humiliating, undermining, or sabotaging others
- Pointing fingers or laying blame
- Public ridicule, cheap shots or personal insults
- Practical jokes
- Excluding, ignoring or isolating others
- Pressuring others to do something inappropriate or unsafe
- Taking credit for other’s work
- Gossiping or spending rumours
- Assigning meaningless or impossible tasks
- Deliberately withholding critical information
- Changing work arrangements to deliberately inconvenience others
- Retribution when someone makes a report
It’s important to note that reasonable management action isn’t classified as bullying. Leaders are able to assign work, direct work and set goals, provide feedback and manage performance, amend rosters or hours, and implement organisational restructures.
Impacts of Bullying
Bullying impacts each of us in different ways. This ranges from being annoyed or feeling “pissed off” but can escalate and cause physical or mental harm. This may include stress, anxiety, depression, eating or sleeping disorders, low self-esteem or confidence, high blood pressure, panic attacks, general distress or illness, tension or headaches, deteriorating relationships with others, and even thoughts of self-harm.
Many people experience bullying, but choose not to report it for fear of not being believed or retribution. Instead, they simply try to ignore it or remove themselves from the situation by finding a new job.
Why do people bully?
There are many factors that may contribute to why some people bully. It’s important to understand these to help you build appropriate strategies.
- Personal factors – home or family pressure, financial problems, a history of bullying in the family, academic or professional failure, feeling unhappy or angry, want to feel powerful
- Social factors – jealous of others success, lack of personal and interpersonal skills, inability to communicate effectively, lack of leadership and teamwork skills
- Workplace Culture – pressure from bosses, workplace standards, desire to win, clock watching, taking it out on others, lack of accountability or responsibility for actions, competitiveness.
If you believe you are being bullied
Ask yourself these simple questions…
- Is the behaviour unreasonable?
- Is it repeated or persistent?
- Does it create a risk to your (or others) health and safety?
If the answer is yes, it is likely you may be experiencing bullying. Consider the tips below to help you develop appropriate coping strategies and strengthen your mental resilience.
- Focus on yourself – your job, reasons for working, goals, health, wellbeing and relationships
- Remember it’s not your fault – don’t blame yourself, build your self-esteem and confidence
- Share your concerns and ask for suggestions – with family, friends, or workmates
- Seek advice – from your supervisor, Human Resources, Employee Assistance Program (EAP) counsellor
- Talk to the person – focus on their behaviour and how it impacts on you
- Practice – Keep calm and don’t be emotional
- Keep notes – who, what, when, where. Remember bullying is repeated behavior so you need to show that it is indeed, not just a one off situation.
- Report to the police where necessary