November is... Anti Bullying Month!
Anti-Bullying month takes place from 2nd to the 27th November with the theme of 'Cyber Bullying and E-Safety'.
Although not online, I have been bullied at work as have probably most people with disabilities at one time or another - but do the greater workforce realise it's as commonplace as it is?
This is the question asked by the TUC, they are concerned workplace bullying is still a big issue for far too many workers - not just those with disabilities - across the UK.
The TUC is carrying out new research to find out about the scale and the effects of the problem of workplace bullying,
Bullying in the workplace can take many forms and the results can be devastating for the victim's physical and mental health. People have told the TUC about:
being shouted at or humiliated in front of their colleagues,
having their work unfairly and repeatedly criticised,
being constantly undermined,
being separated from their teams,
having decent work withheld from them and
having gossip spread about them behind their back.
Have you been bullied at work? Can you share your story with the TUC to help raise awareness of how damaging workplace bullying can be? Can the TUC use your story in their materials in the media?
If you'd like to help the TUC raise awareness of this big workplace problem, please fill in their questionnaire.
As I said earlier, I have been bullied in the workplace not once or twice but four times by a succession of managers in 3 different roles in the same company! I won't name the company.
None of these managers had formal management training on how to deal with people with disabilities, they were literally thrown in the deep end and told "get on with it, how can you learn if you aren't doing it?" - These managers weren't in their management roles for long, they escaped into more senior (non-people management roles) within a year!
What kind of bullying did I encounter?
Humiliation in front of team members by asking questions knowing I couldn't answer
Organising Team Meetings on my day off
Setting unrealistic targets or deadlines
Excessive work monitoring
Keeping me out of things
Malicious lies and rumours
Altering targets and deadlines - kept on changing the job when I'd completed the last one
Refusing reasonable requests for leave, etc
Given jobs I don't have the skillset to complete in the timescales needed - then scrutinised over it, every week and threatened with medical capability.
Refusing Reasonable Adjustments for working from home due to disability
What effect does bullying have on you?
Worry, anger, weight loss
You lie about what you have achieved
You get physically ill - hives, abscesses, rashes, nausea, headaches, migraine
Increased sickness absence
Problems at home - anger, irritable, stop talking to your partner
I had all of the above.
I could write much more than this but what I will write is that I'm now a stronger person because of the above. It has made me very wary how I look at managers and how I treat them.
The good news is I had a great line manager in that role. He stuck with me through 3 of the above mangers, he stood by my side and had my back - he recognised that I was in the right, and that I had been bullied - and it's having that faith in you that pushes you through.
I spend a lot of my work time helping others, this makes me a stronger, more confident person.
Most of these I have volunteered to do, some I was elected:
Workplace Union Rep
Workplace Safety Rep
Member of the Disability Steering Board
Member of the Women's Forum
Member of the Diversity & Inclusion Forum
Delegate to the Unite North West Disabled Member's Committee
That last one is very important to me, I have waited 3 years to be elected a delegate to the committee and it's one I am honoured to be part of, as is the Disability Steering Board were I hope to enact changes in policy at work to stop or at least prevent workplace bullying towards people with disabilities in future.
There should be other routes for disabled employees to report it and not just to other managers (usually those who put that manager there in the first place!) It should be a legal right for disabled workers to lead a safe working life.