Bullying and harassment

2 March 2021

Bullying is behaviour from another person or group that is unwanted and makes you feel uncomfortable. It may not be something that is always obvious or noticed by others. Bullying can make you feel intimidated, degraded, threatened, humiliated and offended. The bullying might be a regular pattern of behaviour or be a one-off incident. It can be spoken, written words, imagery, gestures, jokes, pranks, graffiti, mimicry or physical intimidation. It might be on calls, in emails, on social media or face-to-face. It might happen in the workplace, at work social events or out of work hours. 

Bullying is harassment when the unwanted behaviour is about any of the protected characteristics; age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. 

If you feel harassed and feel like you’re working in a hostile environment there are things you can do to get help and support. 

Top tips for dealing with harassment and bullying 

  • Record. It might be helpful to document or keep a diary of the experiences you’ve had, including how it makes you feel, the dates and times it has happened, if there were any witnesses and any evidence that might be applicable to this, such as screenshots or emails. 
  • Talk. In some cases, the person or group may be unaware of the effect of their actions on you, so you can try talking to them, if you feel you can. In the conversation consider outlining how the behaviour makes you feel, stick to the facts and be firm and assertive. 
  • Alternatively, you could communicate this via email or with the support of an advocate. 
  • Share. If you are uncomfortable approaching this conversation you have other options. You can speak with your manager, another manager, someone in HR, a staff representative, a health and wellbeing champion if you have one, or from support from your Employee Assistance Programme. 
  • Consider your network outside of your workplace, including your GP, friends and family. Support. Your employer is likely to have a policy that outlines how bullying and harassment will be dealt with within the organisation. 
  • If there isn’t a policy, your employer has a legal duty to protect and keep you safe at work. Reach out, ask questions and get the support you need. 

External resources for more information

ACAS, (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service). Independent public body with the aim of improving workplace relations. https://www.acas.org.uk/if-youre-treated-unfairly-at-work/being-bullied 

MIND, for better mental health. Explains how you can be mentally healthy at work, giving practical suggestions for what you can do and where you can go for support. https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/workplace-mental-health/workplace-relations/ 

Citizens Advice. If you're being harassed or bullied at work. https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/work/discrimination-at-work/checking-if-its-discrimination/if-youre-being-harassed-or-bullied-at-work/ 

Government guidance and support. Workplace bullying and harassment https://www.gov.uk/workplace-bullying-and-harassment  

National Bullying Helpline. Information and advice for adults and children affected by bullying. https://www.nationalbullyinghelpline.co.uk/