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The College of Animal Welfare

Workplace bullying
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Workplace bullying
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How to Manage and Prevent Workplace Bullying

It’s a common misconception that bullying only occurs during school years. However this is not the case, instances of workplace bullying are more frequent than you might expect. According to a YouGov Poll about bullying in the workplace, 29% of people in the UK have experienced workplace bullying. What’s more – in 72% of reported cases, the bullying was carried out by a manager.

To tackle this problem, we’ve come up with six ways you can manage and prevent workplace bullying within your company.

Recognise bullying behaviour

Workplace bullying is the ‘persistent pattern of mistreatment from others in the workplace that causes either physical or emotional harm.’ Some examples of this can include:

  • Abusive, insulting or offensive language
  • Deliberately withholding information or resources
  • Excluding/isolating individuals
  • Unfair or ungrounded criticism
  • Spreading misinformation
  • Humiliating, intimidating or threatening someone
  • Denying annual leave, sick leave or compassionate leave without good reason
  • Setting unreasonable timelines
  • Not acknowledging contributions

Encourage everyone to speak up

Encourage your employees to speak up and tell someone if they notice or experience bullying/inappropriate behaviour. The ‘someone else will say something’ mentality only enables bullying to continue and sends a message to the bully that what they’re doing is okay.

Provide company-wide bullying training

Make sure all employees know what workplace bullying is and what they should do if they notice it. This way you’re able to set one standard across the whole company in regards to workplace bullying. What’s more – everyone is then aware of their responsibility to take action if they witness any bullying behaviour. 

Develop a positive workplace culture

Clearly set out your company’s values and beliefs and take actions that align with these values. For example, organise quarterly team meals, or engage in team building activities outside of the office. These sorts of activities encourage people to engage with team members they might not speak to in the office and can improve communication across your company.

So, if everyone believes they are listened to and are treated fairly at work, you might find that instances of bullying are less likely.

Create a process for reporting bullying

Putting a system in place for reporting bullying that all employees are aware of and know how to use can help to reduce/prevent instances of workplace bullying. Ensuring that there is one system for all employees maintains a level of equality and consistency across your company and can be beneficial when it comes to dealing with each case.

As part of this process, managers should take every report seriously and follow it up appropriately – this helps to inforce a zero-tolerance approach to workplace bullying.

Have a system in place for dealing with reported bullying behaviour

Establish a set of rules for all managers to follow when receiving reports of bullying. Detailing clear guidelines of how to approach the situation ensures all workplace bullying incidents are taken seriously and are dealt with equally.


Click here to view answers to some commonly asked questions about bullying at work. Or, for more information on mental health at work, take a look at our blog post about Mental Health in the Veterinary Profession.

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