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How to get help when being bullied in the workplace

It often gets swept under the rug and the shame associated with being bullied in the workplace means many employees wont seek help or talk about it. There is also great fear about reprisal and insecurity over job position, when the bully is a senior colleague or staff member. The prevalence of bullying is also very high, with some research indicating as many as 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men have been bullied during their employment histories. The costs are also high with bullying resulting in more absenteeism, the increased development of psychological disorders and health related problems. Bullying also has a detrimental impact to employee satisfaction and overall productivity.

It becomes extremely important to seek help, whether this is within the orgnsiation, reaching the appropriate channels or external assistance. Within the organization (depending on its size and complexity) a staff member can contact their human resources decisions, mentorship programs (if appropriate) and or employee assistance program or consulting psychologist, should the organization have these. External means of assistance would mostly include contact with a mental health expert such as a counseling, organizational or clinical psychologist.

Some of the barriers preventing help seeking also include:

- An over estimation of the negative consequences of seeking help. There is some research indicating that the likelihood of reprisal is less than what is feared by the individual being bullied in most cases

- Prolonged and long term bullying leads to severe loss of self confidence and esteem and the individual feels unable or not worthy of being helped. Sometimes employees who are bullied feel that it is also somehow their own fault

What to do:

- The first thing is break the silence reach out either within your organization or seek professional guidance from without

- Get perspective and a strategy to deal with the situation. Bullying is tantamount to abuse and it is paramount that the situation changes and or the bullying is mitigated completely

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