Being bullied or harassed at work can be one of the most stressful employment issues to have to deal with. Bullying and Harassment can happen in any size of company, and can range from very minor incidents which can be resolved quickly, to much more serious problems. If you feel as if you are being harassed, bullied, or intimidated at work, there are certain steps you should take to ensure the problem is dealt with promptly and efficiently.
1) Tackle It Head On
If an incident occurs where you feel bullied or intimidated, or if someone makes inappropriate comments to you, the first step should be to let them know that their behavior is not acceptable and ask them to stop. Taking this course of action does require a certain degree of assertiveness however, and if the person making the remarks or bullying is a manager, it can be very difficult to do. However, it should always be your first course of action, and it may be sufficient to make the perpetrator stop.
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2) Approach Your Boss
If a quiet word in the ear of the person causing the problem doesn’t do the trick, the next stage in the process is to take matters further by speaking to your line manager, the manager of the person doing the bullying, or another senior manager in the organisation. Make them aware of what has been going on, let them know you are not happy, and ask them to deal with things on an informal basis.
3) Keep A Diary
Once you have made your allegations to management, you have to keep a diary to back up what you are saying. Note down every time you feel bullied or harassed, and if there are any witnesses to the incident make sure you note down their names too. Don’t write pages about what has happened, just a couple of sentences will do.
4) Human Resources
If the harassment continues, make an appointment to see the HR department and discuss what has been going on. Most companies will have processes and procedures to deal with grievances and complaints, and if you have had no success in resolving things on an informal basis, a formal grievance may be the only way forward.
Each company will have their own method of dealing with grievances, but the vast majority follow the advice of ACAS, the independent body which advises on all aspects of employment. Start the process by putting your complaint in writing. The management will then invite you to a meeting to discuss your complaint, talk about what sort of incidents have been happening, and how you wish to proceed going forward. They will also talk to all other parties involved in the harassment including witnesses. After the process is complete, the managers will make their decision about what is to happen and will put that in writing. The person who has raised the grievance has the right to appeal against the decision if they are still not happy.
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Depending on the outcome of the investigation into the grievance which has been raised, the management of the company may decide to instigate disciplinary procedures against the person who has been harassing you. Serious workplace harassment, involving violence or intimidating language, can be construed as gross misconduct and managers may decide to dismiss the individual immediately. A disciplinary process focuses more on the modification of behavior.
7) Monitoring & Moving On
Even after the grievance has been dealt with, continue with the diary to note down things which have happened and do not hesitate to raise any further issues immediately with the relevant people.
Getting back on track after problems with harassment or bullying can be difficult, so the key to moving on with your career is drawing a line under it and maintaining good communication with colleagues and managers alike.
Written by James Sheehan, a passionate blogger with past legal experience.
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