All All Industry Insights Industry News Media Release Member Only Articles NRA Events NRA Legal NRA Partners NRA Projects NRA Training and Development Policy & Advocacy Policy Updates Technology Tenancy & Leasing Testimonials Thought Leaders Weekly CEO Update WHS Update

Why passive bullying is still bullying

February 12, 2016

Bullying is a serious issue. It dramatically raises stress levels for the person being bullied and is a major risk factor for developing mental health conditions.

Unsurprisingly, beyondblue’s State of Workplace Mental Health in Australia study found 76 per cent of employees said depression and anxiety – the most common forms of mental health conditions – are caused by excessive workplace stress. And it’s up to employers to keep a lid on workplace stress. Under work health and safety legislation, businesses have a duty of care to provide a safe working environment for all employees.

Just a bit of friendly banter?

Workplace bullying – defined as repeated, unreasonable behaviour directed towards an individual – can take many forms. When we think about bullying, the first things that spring to mind are often the most extreme examples: sexual harassment; excessive criticism; intimidation or physical harassment such as pushing or threat of bodily harm; repeated hurtful remarks or verbal attacks; or the spreading of malicious rumours.

But bullying is not always obvious, and leaders or line managers must also be able to recognise passive bullying behaviour.

Passive bullying is not overt and can often be overlooked as a result. It can include subtle things such as offhand negative remarks or jokes; undermining colleagues through the quiet spread of misinformation; sabotaging a colleague’s work by withholding information; or deliberately socially excluding people.

It can be done in ‘hidden’ ways that are harder to spot, including email, text message, social media or instant messaging.

People in leadership positions may also be guilty of passive bullying by allowing bullying behaviour to continue without intervening or reprimanding those responsible.

When viewed in isolation incidences of bullying may not seem serious, but over time they can erode self-confidence, raise stress levels, contribute to anxiety and depression, and lead to absenteeism and poor productivity.

The role of leaders

As leaders, there are many ways to identify and prevent passive bullying – and it’s critical to do so for the mental health of employees as well as the long-term success of your business.

The State of Workplace Mental Health in Australia study found that 91 per cent of Australian employees believe mental health in the workplace is important, but only 52 per cent believe their workplace is mentally healthy.

Five steps to combat bullying

Set a zero-tolerance approach through a workplace bullying policy that establishes guidelines for employees to lodge complaints and have their claims investigated, and a clear process to resolve disputes through conciliation.
Promote an open-door policy to encourage employees to approach managers or human resources professionals to discuss bullying behaviour.

Communicate your approach to employees through newsletters, management meetings, communication throughout the office and by hosting in-house or online training sessions.

Ensure all leaders within the business are given appropriate training to recognise the signs of passive bullying, feel confident in enforcing the business’s anti-bullying policies, and understand that ignoring bullying behaviour will not be tolerated.

Finally, think about how you’ll measure your progress. You could look at the ways bullying claims are handled, levels of sick leave, and gauging staff morale and engagement through consultation, surveys or exit interviews.

For assistance with bullying claims contact the National Retail Association Hotline on 1800 RETAIL (738 245).

NRA Media

  • National Retail Association strengthens support for members on leasing and tenancy
    June 01, 2021

    We are pleased to have strengthened our partnership with Lpc Cresa, a leading advisor to retail tenants across Australia and New Zealand, to assist our…

    Read More
    September 03, 2018

    To download the nomination form, click here

    Read More
  • Closing Loopholes Bill No. 2 passes Parliament 
    February 20, 2024

    Earlier this month, it was confirmed that both Houses of Parliament passed the second tranche of amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) under…

    Read More
  • Jump start your business for 2021 and step ahead of the competition
    November 20, 2020

    2020 has undoubtedly been one of the most challenging years for all of us. It has created unprecedented trends in every industry, and shown retailers…

    Read More
  • NRA members winners in new partnership with Aussie Broadband
    November 16, 2020

    You must be logged in to view this content.

    Read More

What our clients say

Want to chat?
Contact our team today!