Every year, one in 10 workers in New Zealand report bullying at work.
21 May 2021 is Pink Shirt Day. The day is about creating a community where all people feel safe, valued and respected, regardless of age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, or cultural background. It encourages people to speak up, stand together to stop bullying, celebrate diversity, and promote kindness and inclusiveness
Celebrated annually around the globe, Pink Shirt Day began in Canada in 2007 when two students took a stand against homophobic bullying after a student was harassed for wearing pink.
Pink Shirt Day (external link)
Bullying is when someone keeps repeating a behaviour or action towards other people that may affect the other person mentally, socially or physically. In the workplace, bullying is a serious health and safety issue and must be dealt with properly. Bullying can be physical, verbal, psychological or social. This may include victimising, humiliating, intimidating or threatening a person.
A one off or occasional incident of insensitive or rude behaviour towards other people is not regarded as workplace bullying, but it could become more serious. Employers should deal with it as soon as they became aware about it.
Bullying can happen not just between managers and staff, but also among co-workers, contractors, customers, clients or visitors.
How can bullying impact people at work?
Bullying is a significant health and safety risk. It can cause:
- anxiety, stress, fatigue and burnout
- reduced felling of control and helplessness
- increased likelihood of drug and alcohol abuse
- serious physical or mental health issues
- decline in health
- post-traumatic stress disorder
- low self-esteem.
Bullying at work: Advice for workers – WorkSafe (external link)
How do I know if bullying is happening?
Some examples of bullying are:
- being excluded from team meetings or activities
- someone consistently taking credit for your work
- someone spreading false rumours about you
- someone swearing, yelling at you or calling names
If you feel like you are being bullied, talk to a trusted friend or colleague about it.
What are employers’ obligations in relation to bullying?
Employers legally have to be responsible for eliminating, minimising and managing the risks of bullying in the workplace.
They should provide clear guidelines for workers about what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour, as well as what they will do if this behaviour is happening.
Steps for employers to prevent and respond to bullying
What can you do if you feel you are being bullied?
If it is okay with you, you could talk to the person who you think is bullying you and tell them how you feel. If you are not okay with this, talk to your manager (or your manager’s manager) about the issue and you can ask them to step in informally. Or you could raise a formal complaint.
Steps for the person who feels bullied
Your manager, or your boss’s manager or someone from your HR department should investigate your complaint and keep you informed about it.
If nothing changes after these steps, you can:
If bullying causes physical harm, this can be a criminal offence, which should be reported to the Police. Call 111 if you’re in immediate physical danger.