Healthcare HR/People/Culture Learning - Function

5 Essential Steps to Counter Workplace Bullying


Bullying in the workplace. It’s one of the most common stressors among employees but often not talked about as much. It’s either they’re too afraid to speak up, or fear of losing their jobs. Most people would rather keep it in secret, hoping that the bully/bullies would eventually tire themselves. That isn’t the case most of the time.

You’ve got to take action. Whether you’re the victim, a colleague, and the boss. Workplace bullying is never acceptable.

5 Essential Steps to Counter Workplace Bullying

  1. Observe – Try to observe the bullying situation from a non-emotional, third-party perspective, so you achieve more clarity about the motivations and behaviours.


  1. Document – Whenever bullying occurs, ALWAYS calmly, factually and precisely record dates, times, lead-up circumstances, witnesses and specific bully actions.


  1. Protect – Firstly, protect yourself: avoid private interactions with the bully wherever possible, speak up for yourself, know your rights and gather your colleagues together to approach management about the perpetrator’s unacceptable behaviour.


  1. Research – Self-educate about the causes and effects of bullying (especially the serious health consequences of victimisation) and find out the best places to get help: crisis helplines, employee support organisations, health and safety agencies, etc.


  1. Upstander – Learn how to become an upstander (helpful bystander) in bullying situations – and why upstanders are by far the most effective weapon in the fight against chronic bullying.  


Most likely consequences of workplace bullying?  

For the business: productivity, staff retention and morale plummet. For the target: their physical and psychological safety is compromised, their work suffers, and they may end up leaving or even suing the company (or, as in my case, they may end up in hospital with PTSD-type symptoms).   


Why should companies invest more time in preventative strategies against workplace bullying?  

The cost to a business by having just a single bully in their midst can be astronomical. There’s lost time, increased worker compensation claims, a climate of fear in which quality of work suffers, damage to reputation (so it’s harder to attract quality staff) and a huge drop in overall productivity. It’s estimated that the annual cost to the Australian economy resulting from workplace bullying, for example, might be as high as $36 billion. That’s a HUGE number.

The average employer costs per case run between and $17,000 and $24,000. Legal penalties can jump into the millions. So anti-bullying training and effective workplace culture strategies aren’t just ‘nice to have’ – these days, they’re a financial survival necessity for every business. 



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Jessica has been creating thriving workplace cultures in Australia since 2013. She has provided training and professional talks in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK. Jessica is helping people thrive by sharing her learnings. An award-winning Speaker, Educator and Author. She founded Bullyology in 2017 and the Upstand Academy in 2020. Jessica is also the author of the book The Bullyologist: Breaking the Silence on Bullying.


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