20 April 2009

Workplace bullying workshop targets the Witness - Canada

What Canada is doing about Bullying and Harassment....

The most effective way to stop a bully in your workplace is for a witness to intervene.

Research has shown that intervention on the victim’s behalf can stop a bully in ten seconds or less. Unfortunately for the victim, research also suggests that while 90 per cent of employees recognize bullying in the workplace, only half of them will tell a bully to stop.

"If there was bullying happening in here right now,"says Diane Walker to a class of 20 during her "Workplace Bullying: The Hidden Violence" presentation at the Thunder Bay Counselling Centre Monday night, "Half of you would walk out. Isn’t that frightening?" According to Walker, another 15 per cent would actually join the bully and participate in the violence.

"I think witnesses are most at fault,"says Walker. "Usually bullies aren’t interested in taking on the world, just their particular victim."

Another reason bullying continues in the workplace is because there is no legislation from government or workplace policies that recognize it. While harassment is covered in the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Act, bullying is not mentioned. Walker says this is because bullying is seen as an "interpreted idea".

Women are most often the victims of workplace bullying yet the bullies themselves are split equally between the sexes. While a majority of the bullying is from managers to employees, five to ten per cent of bullying cases are known as "bullying up" where the employee vicitmizes his or her boss.

Walker sees several ways to stop workplace bullying from anonymous surveying of employees to reporting and intervening for the victim.

"Everyone should be compelled to report workplace bullying,"says Walker. There are even ways to prevent workplace bullying that starts at an early age in the home.

"As parents one thing we can do is teach our children empathy," Walker says.

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