15 December 2016

Do you have a bully in your workplace?

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Psychopath, sociopath or emotional manipulator? The workplace bully comes in many different shapes and forms, but almost all organisations has one.

Research by the University of Wollongong has found that half of all Australians experience workplace bullying at some point in their career, and the consequences for the victim can have a severe effect on their mental health.

And when colleagues jokingly say the boss is a psychopath, they might actually be on to something. In fact, psychopaths are just as common in leadership roles as they are in prisons.

Research has found that one in five prisoners are considered to have psychopathic tendencies, compared to 21 per cent of people within the executive team of the corporate business sector.

An infamous case involving a 42-year-old female road worker who was so badly bullied for over two years that she developed depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, and is unable to return to work. She was awarded $1.3m in compensation by the Supreme Court of Victoria earlier this year.

Though the legal process of handling work related complaints has greatly improvement in the last years, the amount of complaints has risen drastically, and the perpetrators tend to be managers to who yell, intimidate and humiliate their staff.

So what do you do when you find yourself trapped with a bully? Do you call him out, put your head down or quit?

Sarah Rey, from Melbourne law firm Justitia, argues that employees need to be better equipped on how to deal with conflicts in the workplace.

"There needs to be a move now towards giving people the skills to manage conflict and bring their complaints to the person against whom they wish to make a complaint in a safe environment and have the confidence to do that without feeling they are going to be bullied," she told the ABC.   

Heads up have listed the following guidelines on what to do if you’re being bullied:
  • Talk to someone you trust – this might be an HR person, a manager or a trusted colleague
  • Check policies and procedures – Check whether your workplace has a bullying policy and reporting procedure
  • Speak to the other person – If you feel safe and comfortable doing so, calmly tell the other person you object to their behaviour and ask them to stop
  •  Report it – ways of reporting workplace bullying include informing your supervisor or manager, informing your health and safety or union representative and using established reporting procedures
  • Keep a record of events – Ensure your records include the names of the people involved, including any witnesses. Focus on the facts including what happened, when it happened, what you did to try and stop it (if anything) and any evidence (i.e. emails, social media posts)

Mimmie grew up in Sweden and first came to Australia as a backpacker after high school. After travelling around the country for two years she returned to Europe and pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism in London. But the longing for Australia and the sun became too strong. After having worked for some time in the media industry, Mimmie decided to make a change and swap the news for conferences. She now gets to do what she loves the most, meeting new people and keep learning about cultures and issues while producing conferences on current topics.

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