Bullying? Isn’t that for the playground? Think again.
Let me start with the scenario that lead me to be unemployed, disillusioned and wondering what to do next. It’s a work place issue that is common but I know from talking to many people it often goes unchecked. Even worse, in my situation, the workplace bullying was acknowledged by my Superiors but then overlooked as the norm.
Workplace bullying is described on the WORKSAFE NZ website as follows:
While some bullying might be easy to identify (eg personal attacks and put downs), other forms of bullying are not (eg attempts to undermine credibility, performance or confidence). Workplace bullying is repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety. Unreasonable behaviour means actions that a reasonable person in the same circumstances would see as unreasonable. It includes victimising, humiliating, intimidating or threatening a person.
When I stumbled across this I realised, finally, there was a word and description for the six years of sustained abuse I received at the hands of a Client and to some extent from within the company I worked for. My Employer was more than aware of the Client’s behaviour and the distress it caused me and my team, yet it was seen by the company as a part of the job. So for years I was constantly put in harms way, having to brush off the sexism, unreasonable requests, threats and insults as if that was business as usual. I also had to travel with the guy giving him plenty of opportunity to find fault, insinuate familiarity and generally mess with my self esteem.
Bullying can be insidious and can have a slow creep. It can slowly wear down your resiliency. It took me months to put a finger on what was wrong. After years of trying to work around it I had become ineffectual at work and blamed myself. HR call it “disengagement”. Engaged I was not. The natural joy, motivation, energy, commitment and focus I was known for had up and left and forgot to take me with it. What a high price to pay. Physically removing myself from that job was the only option.
Worksafe goes on to say: Workplace bullying is a significant hazard in New Zealand. It affects people physically and mentally, resulting in increased stress levels, decreased emotional wellbeing, reduced coping strategies and lower work performance.
I want to share my story with you because if you’re in a workplace situation like this there is help, beyond leaving. Bullying is seen as a Health & Safety issue. It is the Employer’s responsibility to keep you from harm. If you believe you are being bullied at work you’re not alone and you can do something about it.
I recommend checking out the WORKSAFE website. There are even examples and various definitions of different types of bullying. I found it a straight forward resource. If you recognise examples of what is happening you can easily take these examples to your Boss, HR or anyone senior within your organisation you trust. Use the site as a way to begin a discussion as finding the right words can be tough when you’re battling with a stressful situation. As with any other Health and Safety concern, the company has to listen and take your concerns seriously. They also have to act.
What amazes me now, after more than 10 months out of that job how long standing the effects have been on my mental and physical health, confidence and outlook. Even worse, what was on paper my dream job had been turned into a nightmare.
So, to turn bad experiences into a positive, this is my platform as I rebuild and decide what my new life looks like. In a series of blogs I’ll share with you the reinvention journey I put myself on and some of the results as I work it all out. It won’t be all serious as some of the experiences I’ve had are downright silly and the journey has just begun.