Saturday, August 25, 2007

Northern Ireland Takes on Bullying at Work

Belfast Set To Host Anti-Bullying Road Show

Northern Ireland News 24 August 2007

Belfast is being included in a nationwide road show to crackdown on the rising levels of harassment and bullying in the workplace.

Recent research has shown that 10% of employees are bullied at work and this serious issue already costs UK employers over £2 billion a year in sick pay, staff turnover and loss of production.

The road show will arrive in Belfast on Wednesday, 5 September, with an open seminar for organisations at the Malone Lodge Hotel, Eglantine Avenue. Guest speakers include Mandy Telford, Dignity at Work Co-ordinator from trade union Unite.

The current shortage of skilled labour across Northern Ireland highlights an increasing need for organisations to adopt a zero tolerance approach to bullying from the outset, and to have anti-bullying and harassment policies in place.

Peter Williamson, Regional Secretary for Unite, said: "Bullying in the workplace is a significant issue for companies across Ireland. We want senior managers in Belfast to lead by example and show they are taking a stand against bullying."

Friday, August 24, 2007

Toxic Work Cultures Support Bullies

Did you know workplace bullying has been labelled a worldwide epidemic and in some nations, it is considered a workplace safety issue? For example, South Australia and Canada?

If you are being bullied by someone at work, don't keep it to yourself. That just makes it worse. The stress continues to build as you have no way to vent your frustration and fear, which can lead to serious health problems--physical and psychological.

The bullying will continue because bullies get their way. Why? Few people complain about bullying behavior. It might even be admired by people--other than the target--as the aggressive and competitive ways of a true leader. The behavior needed to be successful. Some companies support this type of behavior, creating a toxic culture that undermines their employees and their own productivity.

Do you work in a toxic environment? I hope not.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Screeamin' Mimis

Some bullies are characterized as Screamin' Mimis. You get the picture from the name. They shout and scream for no particular reason --or for any reason. They rant and rave about everything you do. It's never right. It's never good enough.

In a small business setting of only 20 people including the two owners, a Screamin' Mimi targeted a young designer. Targeted means he chose her as his verbal punching bag and "beat" on her daily. She began developing the classic symptoms of a target. She feared going to work every morning. Just thinking about it made her heart pound and her chest tighten until she could hardly breathe. She began taking sick days for medical appointments and sometimes just to avoid running into him. After months of this abuse, she finally couldn't take it anymore and got up the nerve to tell him she didn't like the way he treated her. At that moment, the owner walked in, heard the young designer's words, and told her she had to apologize to Mr. Screamin' Mimi. She fled the room in tears, but the owner didn't relent.

Although the bully resigned for personal reasons and left shortly after this incident, the designer searched for a new position and soon joined a different company that does not support a culture of bullying.