Bullying in the workplace

Bullying in the workplace

Is remote working changing workplace bullying? Or do employees still suffer?

Bullying in the workplace is abusive behaviour towards others, exploiting an imbalance of power. Usually the bully is more senior within the organisational structure, or they hold power through their perceived social status.  

Bullying behaviour is generally prolonged or repeated. It can be obvious or subtle, threatening, humiliating and intimidating but it is always unwelcome. It can be: 

  • Face to face, by phone and email, or on social media
  • Verbal, in writing, or by using images such as embarrassing or explicit photos
  • Behaviour that targets a person, or that excludes and isolates them 
  • By an individual or by groups 
  • Physical, psychological, and/or sexual

Take our survey 

Many employees are no longer working alongside their colleagues – in your experience has this had a positive or negative impact on bullying? 

How does bullying affect employees? 

Bullying causes emotional and physical health problems. It makes people feel anxious, stressed and insecure. Confidence, self-esteem and competence can be dramatically affected. As a result, a bullied individual is much more likely to take time off work due to sickness. A study by the University of Leicester into the link between bullying and staff sickness1 in the NHS revealed a 37% increase in time off. 

Signs of bullying and harassment  

Workplace bullying is sometimes obvious, but often it can be hard to detect or evidence. For example, it may:  

  • take place verbally with no witnesses.  
  • be perceived as ‘just banter’ or ‘how things are done here’. 
  • be part of a culture which discourages anyone from speaking up or showing their discomfort. 

Is bullying common in your workplace?

Look out for these signs which may indicate a culture where bullying has become accepted behaviour: 

  • High levels of absence 
  • High staff turnover 
  • Grievances frequently raised  
  • Legal action regularly taken by employees or ex-employees 
  • Absence of an anti-bullying policy 
  • No guidance or support for staff feeling bullied 
  • No whistleblowing policy 


Find out how to address bullying and harassment, create a culture of inclusivity and improve staff wellbeing in our new course. 

Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace

Find out more >>

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