The impact of bullying can make it difficult to know what to do and where to turn to for help. Identifying that there is a problem and its impact on you is the first step. There are several approaches you may wish to consider depending on how you feel and on the nature of the bullying or harassing behaviour. This guidance is to help you decide what to do next.
If you want advice or you feel unable to take action without our support, please contact us. Read our 'when to contact us' section below for more information.
Check local policy
Your employer should have a policy on how to deal with bullying and harassment including informal and formal action and who to go to for help. It is always important to familiarise yourself with your employer’s policy on bullying and harassment (it may be called ‘Dignity at work’). Please also see our employer’s responsibilities section below.
Keep a diary
It is crucial to keep a detailed written record of incidents. You can use our interactive bullying and harassment diary to do this. A diary will clarify exactly what is happening and provides vital evidence if you decide to make a complaint.
Complete your diary as soon as possible after each event. If it is hard to write things down at work, keep a note on your phone and write it down later at home. We will need to see this diary of events if you wish to take further action. Do not write patient names but you can refer to colleagues by using initials.
Please see our 'when to contact us' section if you want further help.
Speak to the person directly
Consider speaking to the person directly (on your own or with a colleague present). It can be very effective to tell the person to stop and explain that they are causing you distress. Their behaviour may be unintentional and they may stop if they are made aware of the effect it is having. If you feel able to talk to the person, take a calm but firm approach and make a note of everything that is said, either at the time or immediately after.
Talk to others
It is often helpful to talk informally to friends, family, trusted colleagues or a workplace counsellor. This is one way to grasp what is happening to you, and clarify that you have a genuine problem. You can also contact occupational health or employee assistance support.
You can also access our counselling service as part of your membership. Contact us to arrange an appointment.
Talk to your manager
In line with your employer’s policy you could talk to your line manager (or another manager) and ask them to talk to the person you are complaining about informally. You could take a colleague for support. You may want to first ask if they use your name, when will they talk to the person and what happens next? In many cases, bullying can be resolved amicably by raising with management and following the local policies.
A mediator or an independent third party can sometimes help to resolve the issues. Mediation is a voluntary impartial process which can help resolve workplace issues but all parties must agree to participate. ACAS has further information about mediation.
If informal approaches haven’t worked, a formal complaint may be needed. Your employer’s policy will set out the process to follow but this normally means that a prompt and thorough investigation is undertaken. An investigation may find that there is no case to answer, that mediation could be an option, or that disciplinary action against the perpetrator is appropriate.
Please contact us for advice and support if you are considering making a formal complaint such as a grievance.