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Workplace Bullying

Workplace Bullying is often linked to school playgrounds, but regrettably, it can manifest in professional environments.

With Anti-Bullying Week taking place between Monday 13th and Friday 17th November 2023, employers could utilise this opportunity to shed light on the warning signs and potential consequences of bullying in the workplace.

What is the definition of Workplace Bullying?

Bullying is repeated inappropriate behaviour that undermines an employees’ right to dignity at work. An isolated incident is not considered to be bullying, it usually takes place over a period of time. Bullying can be done by one or more people and can be aimed at an individual or a group.

Harassment and bullying are often associated in the same scope, but harassment is defined as “unwanted conduct” relating to any of the 9 grounds of discrimination include gender, race and disability.

What are the signs?

Workplace bullying has a wide variety of appearances which can often get overlooked including:

  • Social exclusion and isolation
  • Verbal abuse and insults
  • Being treated less favourably than colleagues in similar roles
  • Belittling a person’s opinion
  • Spreading malicious rumours, gossip or innuendo
  • Intimidation and aggressive interactions
  • Withholding information needed for the person to do their job properly

An isolated incident of the above behaviour is not considered to be bullying.

What does the Law state about Bullying in the Workplace?

Since Decemeber 2020, the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) posted Code of Practice for Employers and Employees on the Prevention and Resolution of Bullying at Work.

The Code of Practice establishes a detailed procedure that should be followed for dealing with informal and formal complaints of bullying in the workplace. Additionally, the Code of Practice details both the employer and employees’ obligations when it comes preventing and resolving workplace bullying.

What is considered Best Practice?

1. From the outset of employment, employees should be provided with an Anti-Bullying Policy that is featured in the company handbook.
2. Employees should be made aware of the grievance and complaints procedure in place, outlining where to turn to if they are a recipient or bystander of bullying of any nature.
3. The policy should reinforce that any form of bullying towards another employee can lead to severe disciplinary action.
4. The policy should be made easily accessible and available for every employee.

What training should take place for employees and employers?

Both employers and employers would greatly benefit from training surrounding bullying in the workplace.

The training could be conducted by either internal management or an external HR consultant. The training could be in the form of webinars, in-person presentations involving role plays to highlight how bullying can appear in minor and major incidents in the workplace. Additionally, factsheets could be distributed to outline employer and employee obligations when it comes to preventing bullying in the workplace.

Voltedge Management delivers Dignity at Work Training to organisations, providing an opportunity to enhance the awareness and importance of Dignity in the Workplace.

Our Dignity at Work Training Course has been created to be relevant to any sector and working environment equipping you with practical skills that can be applied immediately.

The learning outcomes include:

  • Understanding what dignity at work is and its impact.
  • Understanding the definitions bullying, harassment and sexual harassment.
  • Knowing your individual responsibilities.
  • Being able to identify incidents of inappropriate behaviour.
  • Knowing what to do if you feel your dignity at work is being affected.

 Contact us on 01 5252914 or email for more information.

Moya Kilgallen, Voltedge Management HR Consultant

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