Last week was ‘Anti Bullying Week’ and many schools across the UK took part by holding special events or by raising awareness through classroom learning.


However, bullying is not limited to school-age children. 23% of the British workforce have been bullied at work and 25% of the British workforce have been made to feel left out in the workplace (2019 study by SME Loans).


The option of home-working may have been a welcome relief for some workers who dreaded their daily treatment by colleagues in the workplace, however others may feel more isolated than ever. Remote working means that bullying can still take place in the form of cyber bullying, which can feel even more invasive and difficult to escape when working from home long-term.


Workplace Bullying


Bullying at work can take on many different forms, so it is difficult to define. It can include verbal abuse, offensive behaviour, exclusion, humiliation, threats or violence. The ACAS definition states bullying as ’offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient’.


Bullying can take place in any type of working environment; it can happen between colleagues who are peers or working in different levels of authority. Workers can be bullied by their managers or bosses, but also managers, supervisors and team leaders can be bullied by their subordinates.


Cyber or E-Bullying


With more and more people working from home it is likely that email and video conferences are being used more than ever before in the workplace. It is important to recognise that bullying can still take place virtually. This could be in the form of offensive emails, threats made over email, harassment, sharing offensive jokes or materials, comments on social media sites or bullying behaviour over the phone or in video calls/meetings.


The Cost of Bullying


Bullying at work can have a detrimental affect on your team, but also your bottom line as a business.  Bullying can have the following effects:

  • Causing long-term sick leave
  • Demotivating staff and bringing down staff morale
  • Lowering productivity
  • Halting collaborative team working
  • Affecting the whole team, not just those who are being bullied
  • Causing reputational damage to the business
  • Causing a lack of respect for management
  • Increasing staff turnover

stressed woman working from home suffering workplace bullying

How Employers Can Combat Bullying at Work


One problem that employers have with tackling the issue of bullying is that one person’s view of harmless ‘banter’ could be classed as hurtful bullying to another. It is therefore imperative for employers to create a workplace culture of respect and safety.  A few things employers can do are:

  • Harbour a kind workplace culture
  • Take claims of bullying seriously
  • Create an anti-bullying policy
  • Follow a process for dealing with complaints about behaviour
  • Keep clear records of incidents and how they have been managed
  • Provide training for managers, supervisors, and team leaders
  • Learn and look out for the warning signs that someone being bullied at work
  • Take a zero-tolerance approach to bullying
  • Communicate with staff regularly about expected use of emails and social media
  • Create an open-door policy and safe environment

Advice if You Are Being Bullied at Work


If you feel that you are being bullied or harassed at work then it is important to take action before the bullying starts to affect your mental health and your ability to continue working to your best.

  • Check your workplace policies on bullying and follow the set process
  • Raise concerns with a manager or HR
  • Speak to the person directly if you feel safe or comfortable to do so
  • Make notes and records of any incidents
  • Talk to a colleague, family member or friend about how you are feeling
  • Take it further if bullying continues by raising a grievance in writing
  • Seek legal advice

If your employer does not action issues that you have raised, your feel discriminated against, you are unfairly dismissed or feel that you have no option but to leave your job, then speak to a specialist employment lawyer.


Legal Advice


For further advice on your own circumstances as an employer or an employee with concerns about bullying in the workplace, please contact our Employment Law Team who will be happy to assist you.


Call us on 01256 844888, email enquiries@lambbrooks.com or speak to our online chat assistant who can take your details and arrange a call back.


Other Articles You May Be Interested in Reading:

10 Top Tips For Employees Working From Home

Speaking to Your Boss About Mental Health

Tackling the Work Christmas Party in 2020


The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice.  The law may have changed since this article was published.   Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.