Don't let a bully jeopardise your return to work
Returning to work after an illness or injury can be trying. Depending upon how long you were out of the workplace, you may have difficulty catching up with everything that’s happened while you were gone. You may still have a deficit of energy, making it hard to get through the day from a physical perspective. But what if your return is complicated even further by workplace bullying?
From School To The Workplace
You’d think that as we grew older, we would grow out of bullying and intimidating behavior. And it’s true, some former school yard bullies learn the errors of their ways, and become productive members of society. However, a survey by the CDC revealed that 20% of teenagers had been the victim of bullying, and perhaps shockingly that number increases to 25% in the workplace, as reported by the Workplace Bullying institute.
Anxiety and Depression
If you’ve suffered yourself from bullying or seen someone who has, then you will have experienced first-hand the increase in stress it brings to people’s lives. A genuine anxiety becomes pervasive, as the victim worries what might happen next, and in some cases is even afraid to go to the office, or their school.
Poor attendance by some victims can even lead to panic attacks, insomnia and the inability to sleep soundly through the night, which has further mental health consequences beyond the impact of the bullying.
After sustained bullying, a permanent ‘low mood’ can develop, leaving the victim prone to depression. This form of depression is known as ‘reactive depression’ as it is caused by events external to the victim.
Is it Really Bullying?
Here are some some physical and mental signs of bullying and the impact it might have on your everyday life.
- You feel physically ill at the thought of going to work on Monday morning.
- Your health problems return or get worse.
- You obsess about work while at home.
- You are exhausted, but it’s not from physical exertion.
- You believe you are to blame for the treatment you’re getting.
What to Do About Bullying
If you are being bullied at work, you can, and should, take action.
Here’s what to do:
- Keep a record of the behaviour. Write down every time something is said to you, who said it, and who else was present. Be as objective as you can.
- Tell your supervisor. If the bully is your supervisor, tell their supervisor. Don’t hesitate to name names. This may be uncomfortable, but so is being bullied. And it’s quite possible that the person who is bullying you is also bullying others.
- Avoid the bully. If you work in close proximity or on the same team, try to have someone else with you whenever you need to interact with them.
- Be confident. Many bullies target those who appear weak, so be sure to appear strong.
If none of these things work, you can contact the Fair Work Commission for advice.
Returning to work after an illness or injury is difficult enough. Don’t let a workplace bully make it worse.
Jenny Holt is a freelance writer and mother of two. She loves nothing more than getting away from it and taking her pet Labrador Bruce for long walks, something she can do a lot more now she's left the corporate world behind. She is particularly passionate about employee rights and equality in the workplace.