This morning I had the pleasure of delivering anti-bullying workshops to 140 girls in Queen Anne's School in Caversham, Reading. I delivered the workshops on behalf of BulliesOut, my favourite charity, which is based in Cardiff. The girls were between the ages of 11-13 and were a real asset to the school, engaged, self-motivated and ready to discuss the topics of bullying, changing attitudes and stereotypes. It got me to thinking (it was a long drive home!), if young people are so eager to engage with the topics and to identify how changes can be made, why on earth do we, as adults, not stand up for ourselves and each other in the workplace? We stand up for the rights of our children if they are faced with bullying, why not do the same at work?
A recent survey by Slater and Gordon Solicitors (August 2015) found that 1 in 3 employees felt they had been bullied at work and 21% had witnessed colleagues being bullied.
Thinking of my own employment history, which is more years than I care to remember and started on a knicker stall in the local market at age 14, I have been both the victim and the bystander when it comes to bullying in the workplace. I have seen colleagues being shouted at, being subjected to unreasonable requests, being told they cannot talk about anything other than work, being brought to tears by individuals who are higher up in the company and being talked about by a group of people as soon as their back has turned/as soon as they have left the room - I have observed and also been subjected to this type of treatment, all in the name of work! But why is this behaviour tolerated? We live in an age of mission and value statements and ever increasing legislation to protect employees in the workplace, is it all merely lip service?
Some organisations are extremely good at protecting and ensuring their employees' well-being by investing time and money in educating and involving the workforce in shaping policies and their workplace. Employers who truly buy into creating a respectful culture, rather than just concentrating on targets and money making, will find that this results in higher productivity, higher employee satisfaction, lower levels of absenteeism, a generally happier workforce and so many more positive outcomes - it's a bit of a no-brainer!
The BulliesOut Workplace Charter establishes a framework for organisations to support the Stop Workplace Bullying campaign and help make UK workplaces free from bullying. Your organisation can sign up to the charter by clicking the link below:
BulliesOut also offer training sessions based around the topics of bullying, to see what they offer follow the link below:
As I found with today's workshops at the wonderful school I was lucky enough to visit, education and engagement are key to changing attitudes and behaviours. If children can do it then surely so can we? Perhaps we need to go back to basics and re-educate ourselves, our colleagues and our employees of how bullying can begin, what constitutes bullying and what we can do to safeguard ourselves in the future.
What do you think?