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Bullying in the Workplace

Bullying at work examples

What is workplace bullying?

Workplace bullying can be hard to detect, but unfortunately it does happen, and maybe a lot more than you may think, according to, 30% of workers have direct experience being bullied in the workplace and an additional 19% have witnessed it. Here are some common examples to help you identify if bullying is happening in your workplace:

Verbal abuse:

  • Constant criticism, even when unjustified.
  • Shouting, swearing, or using aggressive language
  • Insults, name calling, and sarcasm
  • Public humiliation or putting someone down in meetings
  • Spreading rumours or gossip

Social abuse:

  • Deliberately excluding someone from social events or projects
  • Sabotaging someone’s work by withholding information or resources
  • Taking credit for someone else’s ideas or accomplishments
  • Isolating someone by making them feel unwelcome

Work abuse

  • Setting up someone to fail by giving them impossible deadlines or unclear instructions
  • Assigning excessive workload compared to colleagues
  • Taking away responsibilities or opportunities for personal growth
  • Deliberately undermining someone’s authority (especially for upward bullying)


  • Sending offensive emails or messages
  • Posting negative comments or rumours online
  • Sharing embarrassing photos or videos of someone without their consent 

What is Upward Bullying?

Upward bullying is when an employee or group of employees target their Manager or someone of a higher seniority with bullying behaviour. 

It might seem counterintuitive, as people with higher seniority typically hold the power, but bullying can happen in any direction where there is an imbalance. 

The effects of upward bullying can have a significant impact on both the manager and the workplace. Here are some consequences:
  • Managers wellbeing: constant pressure and negativity can lead to stress, anxiety, and even depression.
  • Decreased productivity: A hostile working environment caused by bullying can significantly decrease productivity and team morale.
  • High turnover: Upward bullying can push other valuable employees to leave due to the negativity and lack of support.
  • Reputational damage: If not addressed, rumours and sabotage tactics can damage the manager’s reputation within the organisation.

Employee Wellbeing in the Workplace

In a recent report published by the UK Parliament’s Treasury Committee found that HR departments in the finance sector were prioritising company reputation over employee wellbeing, especially for woman facing sexual harassment. 

The report found a disturbing trend where woman felt afraid to speak up due to a male-dominated environment. MPs voiced concern about the “growing power” of HR, which they believe fails to protect victims. Victims reported feeling HR was more focused on protecting the company image than addressing their concerns. 

This coincides with significant growth in the HR sector, but the committee argues that hasn’t translated into a safer working environment. 

How to deal with bullying in the workplace

Listen to our new podcast episode ‘How can businesses tackle bullying in the workplace’ as Natalie from Beyond HR and Ewan discuss the importances of addressing bullying behaviour and maintaining positive employee wellbeing. 

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