Being bullied in the workplace

Being bullied in the workplace
Being bullied in the workplace

Today I want to share another chapter of my mental health journey. This one happened towards the beginning so it was still early days and I didn’t know how to deal with this type of situation. Not to mention that nothing like this had ever happened to me before so of course, novel territory on all accounts.

I took to video again and you can watch the entire story below (pleased to note that my editing skills are improving in the process. Also love that it looks like I’m in a prison cell)

Key takeaways for employers

As I mentioned in the video, there are some key takeaways for employers here. It is crucial that employees feel able to talk to someone about their problems and that there is a safe space for that. More often than not it’s not at all clear who they could talk to, there is no system or process in place, no one identified for that.

To be honest, I was shocked that in my huge company (which by the way was part of a listed group) there was no such thing in place. You would imagine that for a company of that size, resources wouldn’t be a problem. And yet, it didn’t seem that they were invested in HR.

Here are a couple of things you can do:

  • Create psychological safety – this is so vital for any workplace, regardless of mental health.
  • Have a dedicated person people can go to with their concerns. In the UK this has been made possible through the concept of mental health first aiders, but you can implement your own version of this.
    • You can also hire someone external who would act as a source of support and guarantee anonymity for employees.
  • Have a policy in place that clearly details what to do and how to react in such a situation.
  • Train your managers. Make them aware of company policy, and ensure they know how to respond and report a case if their direct report comes to them with an issue. Beyond knowing the correct procedure, ensure they know how to respond with empathy and provide some degree of support.
  • Partner with an organization like Sanctus that offers coaching for employees.

In this particular scenario, employers do have a responsibility and it is within their power to stop these detrimental behaviours. Someone once said “Your company culture is what you’re willing to tolerate”. If you tolerate bad behaviour, it should be no surprise that these are toxic work environments which are more likely to lead to mental health problems.

Key takeaways for colleagues

Show empathy and compassion for the people who are going through workplace bullying. If you are strong or confident, it can be easy to think “I would just get up and walk away”, or even criticize others thinking “why don’t they just get out of a bad situation”. I can guarantee that it is way more complicated than that.

The mind is complex and when you’re feeling down it’s really hard to think rationally and put together a plan of action to get out of a bad situation. Most of the time we are experiencing fear and we are in flight or freeze mode. So no, it’s not as easy as you might think.

If you want to, look at ways you can help your colleague or think read up on things you can say in case they confide in you.

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Currently working in marketing and comms in Amsterdam. Passionate about all things digital, writing, dancing, travelling and much more. Mental health blogger and advocate.

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