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Workplace Bullying – we’re talking about it on Pink Shirt Day #PinkitForward

Pink Shirt Day

In 2007, a group of grade nine students in Nova Scotia wore pink in support of their classmate who was getting picked on at school for wearing pink. The simple act of wearing apink shirt and encouraging their friends to as well, has spread into a Canada-wide showing of solidarity in the fight against bullying. Today, Feb 24th is our day – our day to end bullying. Do your part and use the hashtag #PinkItForward on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram today –$1 for every post is donated to organizations like Boys & Girls Clubs, Kids Help Phone and Red Cross Respect ED Violence Prevention Program.

Prevent bullying at your workplace by watching out for these signs and speaking up if you or members of your team are experiencing any of the following:

  • Frequent insulting or humiliating comments
  • Obscene or threatening gestures
  • The spreading of lies or malicious gossip – false accusations
  • Unwanted isolation from the others (eg. Exclusion from meetings, lunches or other events that other colleagues have been invited to)
  • Defacing or vandalizing property or belongings
  • Undermining ability to be successful (eg. Withholding needed information, insisting on unreasonable deadlines)
  • Criticizing on a personal level despite objective evidence of ability to perform well

These seem like obvious cause for concern to many, but often times those who are being bullied, or who witness bullying in the workplace,do not speak up. They feel anxious or afraid to go to work, experience stress, and ultimately their productivity suffers.

 If you are experiencing bullying in your workplace, consider these tips:

  • Document it. As soon as you think there is bullying happening, start documenting a log of incidents. Keep it private and use direct quotes where possible. Save related emails and materials. If you chose to come forward – you will need them.
  • Take care of yourself. Get rest, talk with a supportive friend, do deep breathing or visualization exercises to stay calm. Seek advice from someone you trust. Talk with your manager or if your manager is bullying you then a trusted HR representative. Your EAP can also give you information and resources.

Employers – here’s where you come in

The consequences of bullying in the workplace are grave. Legal expenses, absenteeism, reduced productivity, reduced job satisfaction and engagement, stress, sickness as well as psychological problems.  Obviously preventing bullying at all costs is a great goal to have – however it is naïve of employers to believe that prevention is enough. In Ontario, The Occupational Health and Safety Act states that “Everyone should be able to work in a safe and healthy workplace” free of violence and harassment. In the Act, harassment is defined as including “bullying, intimidating or offensive jokes or innuendos, displaying or circulating offensive pictures or materials, or offensive or intimidating phones calls.” Canadian employers have a legal obligation to protect their employees from harassment in their workplace. The message is clear, employers who are proactive in eliminating workplace bullying will achieve a highly engaged workforce, keep productivity high and avoid the costly impacts of bullying on their workforce. How do you ensure that your workforce is free of bullying?

The workplace bullying signs and tips provided in this resource have been adapted from the following article on LifeWorks.com “Bullying in the Workplace”.

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