Dealing with Workplace Abuse
Our work holds significance in our lives. We often come across stories from our loved ones about the challenges they face at their workplaces. If you find yourself trapped in a work environment, it is crucial to be aware of your options. This guide aims to provide insights into the forms of mistreatment and the available avenues for victims seeking recourse. This is not legal advice and it is recommended to speak to a legal professional if you are in need.
Different Forms of Workplace Mistreatment
Workplace mistreatment can manifest in ways. Identifying it may not always be straightforward. Mistreatment can include;
- Verbal Abuse
- Physical Abuse
- Harassment (Including Sexual Harassment)
- Imposed Excessive Working Hours
Each form of mistreatment necessitates an approach for resolution. There are legal channels through which victims can seek assistance and justice.
- Verbal abuse can occur either face to face or through communication platforms.
- Criminal Intimidation; This occurs when someone threatens to harm you damage your reputation or take away your property with the intention to cause alarm and force you into an act or prevent you from exercising your legal entitlements. Severe threats could result in a jail time or a fine.
- Physical abuse encompasses harm or contact such as poking, slapping, hitting or punching. According to law individuals can be charged with causing harm or using criminal force for physical assault.
- Voluntarily Causing Harm; Offenders may be sentenced to jail and/or fined.
- Using Criminal Force; Offenders may be sentenced to jail or fined.
Workplace harassment involving threats, insults, demeaning language or abusive comments is considered an offence. Those found guilty can be fined. Victims also have the right to seek compensation through action against harassers and apply for Protection Orders to prevent unwanted behaviour.
Sexual harassment includes advances, like inappropriate remarks, explicit images or unwanted physical contact. Depending on the incident engaging in behaviour may result in criminal charges. Individuals who have experienced harassment can pursue both criminal remedies and other forms of workplace compensation.
If you find yourself subjected to workplace abuse here are some steps you can take;
Reach out for support; It’s important to confide in a trusted friend or family member who can offer assistance during this time.
Keep a record; Document any instances of abuse noting down details such, as dates, times, locations and any witnesses present. This record will prove valuable when reporting the abuse.
Report within your workplace; Notify your supervisor, HR officer or management about the behaviour you have been experiencing. Familiarise yourself with your companys protocols for reporting incidents and follow them accordingly.
Officially report the incident; Depending on the nature of the abuse you have options for reporting it. Rest assured that your identity can be kept confidential if desired.
Involve law enforcement if necessary; If you have suffered harm or received threats as a result of abuse it is crucial to involve the police. They possess the authority to investigate and pursue charges against those
Remember that no one should endure abuse, in silence. Seek help if you are a victim or offer support to others facing situations. There are avenues both civil and criminal—to address workplace abuse effectively. Additionally consulting with harassment lawyers can provide guidance to your circumstances. Remember, there are resources to assist you in addressing and resolving dynamics within the workplace.
Exploring Workplace Abuse; A Call, for Action
Workplace abuse is a reality that must not be overlooked. Have you ever come home from work with tears welling up in your eyes? Many of us can relate to this experience. Identifying a bully can be challenging, as workplace dynamics are often complex and delicate. These descriptions above might resonate with you.
Abusive behaviour can take on forms, in the workplace, such as abuse involving humiliation, threats, jokes or yelling. It can also manifest as performance related issues like sabotage, blame shifting, unfair treatment or excessive demands. Additionally threats may include exclusion, stalking, invasion of privacy or unjust criticism.
The impact of harassment is concerning. Surprisingly only a third of those who have experienced abuse at work actually share their ordeal with friends or family. This lack of communication can lead to feelings of helplessness and isolation. Moreover bullying can have consequences for both individuals and the overall work environment.
Think about feeling anxious about interactions with your boss or colleagues; Enduring workplace abuse can result in health problems such as increased stress levels, anxiety disorders, insomnia and persistent worrying even during non working hours. This kind of situation often leads to absenteeism as employees dread going to work. It also affects motivation levels negatively. Diminishes self esteem while causing a loss of interest, in ones job.
The Impact, on the Workplace
When someone experiences abuse it often leads to a breakdown in team cohesion due to a lack of safety and trust. This change in dynamics typically results in decreased employee engagement and participation. Our relationships and connections greatly influence our mood and attitude towards work. Consequently management can expect losses to reduced productivity, high turnover rates and increased absenteeism.
Dealing with Workplace Abuse
It’s alarming to know that 61% of workplace bullying comes from bosses or supervisors. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute another 33% originates from co workers while the remaining 6% is attributed to employees at levels of the hierarchy. How can these situations be. Effectively managed, especially when it involves your manager?
Seeking Support and Information
First and foremost remember that you are not alone in this situation so do not blame yourself. Reach out for support from friends, family members or co workers who can offer understanding and guidance. If these resources are not available consider seeking assistance, from a therapist who can provide conflict resolution help. Additionally gather information by referring to your employee handbook consulting leadership or your labour union for guidance on how to handle specific situations.
Resolving the Incident(s)
Initiating an in person meeting to professionally address the issue might feel uncomfortable. It can be highly effective. This approach allows you to pick up on cues, stressors or misunderstandings. It’s crucial to document all actions in writing, including the date, time, location and any witnesses involved. Also make sure to preserve any evidence like comments or emails that demonstrate intent or actions. Above all remember to establish and protect your boundaries and only address the situation when you feel comfortable doing. This ensures that you maintain an polite demeanour while handling matters.
If you’re following complaint processes it’s advisable to inform management about the problem and seek their assistance. Often HR is involved in these processes; therefore if you don’t feel comfortable talking to your manager, about it consider reaching out to someone who’s not directly part of your team.
In some cases external factors may prevent you from leaving your job despite experiencing workplace harassment. However there comes a point where it becomes unbearable. If workplace harassment remains unaddressed and continues to foster an environment of behaviour that negatively impacts your physical health significantly enough—it may be time for you to consider moving on.
The role of leadership, in driving change
Addressing workplace abuse is a matter that has consequences for both individuals and the overall work environment. How can leaders contribute to creating transformation and serve as role models? There are approaches that can help foster a work environment particularly since identifying bullying can be complex.
Effective onboarding and clear policies
During the 90 days of starting a job individuals typically absorb the organisations core principles. Providing documents as guides during the onboarding process is crucial. Having defined policies against harassment and maintaining a firm zero tolerance stance from the beginning helps set behavioural expectations for all employees.
Empowering employees involves understanding their experiences. Conducting organisation pulse surveys and team level polls allows leaders to gauge sentiment and group dynamics.
Organising workshops focused on learning and development helps refresh employees knowledge of workplace behaviour while also introducing policy updates. Having a clear internal communication calendar ensures that employees stay informed about matters.
As our work landscape continues to evolve there is an increasing need, for inclusivity and understanding employee needs. Taking steps to enhance respect levels and prevent workplace abuse not benefits employee well being. Also cultivates a positive company culture. On a level it’s essential to prioritise your well being knowing that there are safe avenues available to address workplace abuse.
David Alssema is a Body Language Expert and Motivational Speaker. As a performer in the personal development industry in Australia he has introduced and created new ways to inspire, motivate and develop individuals.
David Alssema started his training career with companies such as Telstra and Optus Communications, and then developed Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) within workplace training as principal of Paramount Training & Development.
As an author/media consultant on body language and professional development David has influenced workplaces across Australia. He contributes to Media such as The West Australian, ABC Radio, Australian Magazines and other Australia Media Sources.