Help for workplace bullying

By Charles Strachey

February 21, 2017 12:00 AM

Dear Working Wise:
One of my coworkers is spreading lies about me and saying that I’m terrible at my job. I love my job, but I hate going to work now and I’m thinking of quitting. I don’t know what to do. Should I tell the boss?
Signed, Bullied

Dear Bullied:
Many adults think bullying ends once you leave the schoolyard.
Unfortunately, some of those kids just get older and become workplace bullies. 
Workplace bullying is a serious problem that affects everyone in the workplace.
People who experience bullying in the workplace can have increased stress, health problems and family problems in addition to lower productivity, higher absenteeism and higher staff turnover.
Workplace bullying can be hard for others to recognize and can involve a variety of behaviours from negative gossip and unfair criticism to offensive jokes and tampering with personal belongings.
There are laws against some extreme types of bullying, including:
Bullying someone on any grounds protected under the Alberta Human Rights Act, such as race, religion, disability, or sexual orientation (albertahumanrights.ab.ca).
Violence or threats of violence can be investigated by Occupational Health & Safety (work.alberta.ca/ohs) and the police.
The majority of research in bullying has found that the best way to reduce bullying is to focus on promoting healthy relationships.
Healthy relationships are created by promoting communication, respect, trust and support.
Employers can promote healthy workplace relationships by:
• Asking managers and supervisors to lead by example.
• Including zero-tolerance on bullying in their corporate values.
• Explaining to staff how bullying behavior contravenes the organization’s values.
• Establishing and communicating a zero-tolerance policy and procedure for reporting and resolving workplace bullying.
The Government of Alberta recognizes that bullying is a serious issue and has released Alberta’s Plan for Promoting Healthy Relationships and Preventing Bullying.
The plan outlines Alberta’s strategic approach to prevent bullying and includes many strategies focused on promoting healthy workplace cultures.
Government also offers resources to assist Albertans who are experiencing workplace bullying.
Albertans of all ages can visit bullyfreealberta.ca or call the Bullying Helpline: 1‑888‑456‑2323 for tips and advice on how to combat bullying.
The ALIS website (alis.alberta.ca) also offers tip sheets on bullying:
• Bullies at Work: What to Know, What You Can Do.
• Employers: What You Need to Know About Bullying in the Workplace.
Coworkers can play an important role in eliminating bullying in the workplace.
  Feb. 22 is Pink Shirt Day.
You can help send the message that bullying behavior is not acceptable by getting everyone in the office to wear a pink shirt that day.
You can make it even more fun by sharing your Pink Shirt office photos on Twitter using the hashtags #ABPinkShirtDay and #ABPinkShirtDayPromise.
For more information about Pink Shirt Day visit bullyfreealberta.ca.

Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca. Charles Strachey is a manager with Alberta Community and Social Services.

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