It Won’t Happen to Me!

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Would you buy a lottery ticket?

If I told you that you had a one in three chance of winning the lottery would you buy a ticket?

We would too! Those odds aren’t bad!

But what if I told you that the odds were the same for an employee getting bullied or harassed at work…

YouGov did a survey in 2015 which found exactly that. One third of the working population has had employment law related issues at work.

The scale of this might not even be news to you…I bet you know someone who has had one of these things happen to them in their life:

  • They’ve been made redundant
  • They’ve been harassed at work
  • They’ve been bullied at work
  • They’ve been discriminated against
  • They’ve been unfairly dismissed
  • They’ve been treated unfairly
  • They’ve been asked to take risks with their health and safety

Maybe it’s even happened to you before.

Aren’t there’s loads of employment rights to protect me if something went wrong?

You might think if something ever happened to me, I would be fine…there’s lots of employment law to protect me… and you are right, we do have lots of great employment rights. Unfortunately, the problem is that most people don’t have the knowledge required to get the best outcome for themselves and there is little affordable support out there to exercise those rights.

The simple truth is that employees don’t have access to the same time, financial and legal resources as their employer and many are also worried about repercussions if they make a complaint.

There are some great employers out there but there, but that doesn’t stop bad things happening to their employees. It’s also true that the most minor problems can escalate into grievances or disputes when they’re not dealt with quickly and effectively. This can often be the case in bullying and harassment situations where employees are scared about raising an issue or managers try to hide it or avoid dealing with it… (in nearly 72% of bullying cases the bullying is carried out by a Manager).

The rise of bullies at work…

The TUC report found that workplace bullying is the fastest growing problem amongst employment related issues.

The study showed that women are more likely to be victims of bullying than men and of the people that were bullied, 34% were aged between 40 and 60.

It’s easy to think that people will only be targeted by workplace bullies because they’re ‘different’ in some way, but whilst that is certainly a reason why people are targeted there are lots of others and you might be bullied for any of the following reasons:

  • You’re a high performer

Targets can often be people who get positive attention for the way that they work and the results they get. Workplace bullies target high performers because they feel threatened or inferior. Bosses who bully will try to steal credit or undermine their high performing team member.

  • You’re popular

It’s not true that victims of bullying are outsiders or socially awkward…where bullies perceive well liked workers as a threat to their own status, they can often go on the attack.

  • You want to do the right thing

Team players and those who promote following the rules can often be targeted by bullies who want to be the one in charge. They want to encourage complete loyalty to themselves and where loyalty to the team and the company get in the way, this can cause conflict.

  • You don’t like confrontation

People who are quiet and are lacking in confidence are often chosen by bullies to focus their attention on because they are seen as an easy target.

  • You fit into a group that the bully is prejudiced against

Whether it’s age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion or disability…you can become a target for bullying because you are different in some way to the bully. They will single people out and bully and discriminate against them because of that difference.

  • You have distinctive physical features

Bullies will often pick on people because they have a unique or distinguishing physical characteristic. It is immature and sad, but it can cause upset as much when you’re an adult as when you were a kid at school.

What can happen if you get bullied at work?

Of the high numbers that have suffered bullying and harassment at work…

  • nearly half (46%) said it had an adverse impact on their performance
  • the same percentage believed it had a negative effect on their mental health.
  • more than a quarter (28%) said it had a detrimental effect on them physically, and
  • around one in five (22%) had to take time off work as a result of being bullied.
  • more than one in three (36%) people who report being bullied at work leave their job because of it.

So, the impact of bullying at work can be poor performance, mental health problems, physical problems or poor attendance…and often these can cause disciplinary processes to be initiated which can cause additional stress and can also result in the loss of your job and livelihood.

People often think that if they work hard and follow the rules, they won’t have issues at work, but unfortunately that is not the case. It is important that should a problem arise you have the legal support and knowledge in place to deal with it so that your health and livelihood are protected.

We’ve put together information about the key things you need to know and do should an employment problem happen, and you can access that here.

By David Plotkin, CEO, Plotkin and Chandler


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