Workplace bullying

Workplace bullying is emotional violence that can present itself as, gossiping, belittling other people’s work, being assigned tasks below one's level, denigrating someone’s reputation, making work more difficult, social isolation or, in general, poor treatment.

Not all conflicts in the work community are workplace bullying. Bullying is systematic and lasting oppression. Bullying makes the victim feel anxious, humiliated and frightened. The employer has a duty to intervene in bullying.

You should react to workplace bullying immediately. The quicker bullying is dealt with, the faster it is likely to end. Mental stress caused by bullying may be so strong that it may even lead to the victim falling ill with depression.

Besides talking to the bully alone, the issue can be discussed with one's supervisor, employee's representative or safety representative. All of these parties should be informed of bullying present in the work community.

If a meeting is held over bullying, ask for minutes to be taken. Keep any evidence of bullying, such as email messages, and talk to colleagues that may have noticed the bullying. They are important witnesses when the issue is discussed, but may also be victims of bullying that you may not be aware of.

It is usually important for a victim to be able to talk to someone about being bullied. Sharing one's feelings with colleagues, friends or family, for example, also helps to analyse them.

If bullying is prolonged, processing the feelings caused by it is especially important. At worst, bullying can be a crisis causing trauma. Its effects may be seen as sleeplessness, anxiety or various types of unexplained pain, for example.

The website of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health gives excellent information on workplace bullying and what to do if you become a victim of it.