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Let’s talk about workplace bullying – Guest Blog Nicki Eyre


Here at Limelight HR we are committed to helping the businesses we support to create a workplace that has a fun, family feel and we know that there is absolutely no way this can happen if people are subjected to bullying and harassment.

We have dealt with numerous cases of bullying and harassment over the years and have found a flexible, considered and people-focused approach has been key to reaching a positive outcome for all involved. We believe that everyone has a right to be happy at work; happy people means happy bosses which leads to a productive, fun, supportive workplace. This is why we are proudly a passionate ambassador and supporter of Conduct Change and would like to see a fundamental change in the way bullying and harassment are recognised and approached.

Not everyone wants to talk about workplace bullying every day, but that’s exactly what Nicki Eyre does after she experienced the trauma of workplace bullying herself. She founded Conduct Change to support both businesses and individuals, as this is a much more complex area than most people realise, but through her own experience and learning she recognises the scale of the problem at both an organisational and individual level.

In advance of the Conduct Change Foundation’s United Against Workplace Bullying Virtual Conference 16-18 Nov 2021 we wanted to talk about this really important subject and help raise awareness with this guest blog from Nicki.


What is Workplace Bullying?

Acas guidance defines bullying as “offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient”.

Bullying can happen in a number of different ways both inside and outside of work. It could take place via written or verbal communications (such as email and telephone calls or on social media) and outside of work in social settings. Often bullying behaviour is very obvious such as, spreading malicious rumours, or shouting at or insulting someone in front of others. Sometimes it is more subtle for example, booking in meetings over lunchtimes and before and after finish times, setting people up to fail by overloading them with work beyond their capacity or experience; being overly critical; overbearing supervision and micromanagement; or making unfounded threats about job security.


Why should employers be concerned?

Workplace bullying is bad for business full stop. It can have a significant negative impact on staff morale and employee relations, lead to reduced productivity and poor performance in the workplace as well as increased absence rates or even higher turnover rate among those who stay. On top of that are the significant legal risks for employers which can become incredibly expensive.


What can employers do?

It is in every employer’s best interest to minimise the risk of workplace bullying and to focus on prevention as well as having robust policies in place to deal with them swiftly if they do occur.

Practical steps that employers can implement include:

  • Creating a psychologically safe workplace culture where everyone is clear that bullying and harassment will not be tolerated, and that any complaints about bullying will be taken seriously.

  • Support your managers and provide them with training so they can manage their teams appropriately.

  • Educate your staff about the behaviours that are expected in the workplace, and support them to achieve those standards.

  • Use a variety of different early intervention techniques to resolve issues as early as possible and prevent them from escalating.

  • Have clear accountability in place. Make it clear in your Disciplinary Procedures that bullying and harassment will be treated as misconduct.

  • Ensure team members know how to complain if they are bullied at work. You can do this by giving them an example of when they should complain, or telling them when someone should report it. A robust Grievance or Resolution Procedure will help here.


More support for employers

Prevention is always better than cure, and by looking at the damage caused to businesses, Nicki placed this at the heart of the development of the unique Charter for Change programme, a customised consultancy model that focuses on education and awareness of positive behaviours that lead to enhanced team performance, alongside the development, measurement and review of cultural and behavioural change.

It recognises that many employers set out with positive intentions to create a happy, healthy and productive workforce, but the reality is that often the behaviours and conduct are disconnected from the aims and objectives of the employers.

If sadly, bullying cases do still occur, then she advocates supportive, early interventions such as intensive coaching interventions for both parties, and only using formal policies and procedures as a last resort. The benefits for businesses in using this approach include:

  • Embed the essential foundations for a culture of positive challenge, creativity and innovation

  • Enhance the organisation’s reputation as an employer, attracting the best people Save staff time and money on disputes through recognising and implementing early intervention and resolution approaches

  • Reduce sickness and absenteeism

  • Higher staff retention, reducing the costs of recruiting and replacement

  • Improve staff relationships and morale

  • Increase motivation, engagement and performance

One area which is often missed is the need to support people after resolution (or not!). The Recovery programme provides support for all people affected, including witnesses, bystanders, and those directly involved in the case. The organisation is also supported with learning from the experience and strengthening actions to prevent further cases from arising.


What is the United Against Workplace Bullying conference?

As a business with a social purpose, Conduct Change have now established their own charity, the Conduct Change Foundation for advocacy and campaigning for change, as well as supporting individuals who have had to leave their jobs due to workplace bullying through the Moving On programme. The Foundation is supported in its work by experts and influencers from a range of backgrounds who were recruited to the Trustee and Advisory Board to guide the work and support ongoing research and proposals for new approaches both in practice and from a wider legal perspective. Together with our Ambassadors, we are campaigning for change, and opening up conversations about workplace bullying.

During Anti Bullying Week from the 16th to the 18th of November 2021, we are holding our “United Against Workplace Bullying” Virtual Conference for 3 days of live talks with expert speakers from around the world, from the UK to the USA to the Philippines, alongside updates from people who have experienced workplace bullying courageously sharing where they are now after joining our Moving On programme.

To read more about the conference programme and to support or buy tickets, click here

Employers need to take preventative measures and have robust policies in place that address workplace bullying. Workplace bullying is a serious issue that can have long-lasting consequences for both the employee and employer. If you need help, don’t be afraid to reach out to experts who are experienced in workplace bullying prevention and resolutions. They will not only give you advice on how to prevent it from happening but also provide guidance if an incident does occur. You don’t have to go it alone!