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Bully for you: Harassment and bullying in the workplace

Authors:

Abstract

Bullying and harassment is a significant predicament that midwives face on a regular basis. Bullying and harassment may be characterized by unpleasant, threatening, malevolent or offensive behaviour. It involves abuse or misuse of power intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or harm the recipient. Deliberate bullying and/or harassment can have a major impact upon physical and mental health, as well as function within role. There are consequences for the persecutor, victim and institution in terms of health, cost and reputation. The objective of this paper is to provide managers with solutions to diminish levels of bullying and harassment within maternity units. To this effect, a bullying and harassment protocol has been written to guide managers to use appropriate strategies to diminish the intensity of bullying and harassment within their unit. To audit success, a Bullying and Harassment Scale (BAHS) has been devised to measure effectiveness of interventions targeted at reducing the problem.
Hollins Martin, C. J., Martin, C. R. (2010). Bully for you. British Journal of
Midwifery. 18 (1): 25-31.
Caroline J. Hollins Martin PhD, MPhil, BSc, PGCE, ADM, RM, RGN1
Colin R. Martin PhD BSc RMN2
1. Senior Lecturer, School of Health, Glasgow Caledonian University, UK
2. Professor Mental Health, West of Scotland University, UK
Address for correspondence: Dr Caroline Hollins Martin, Room K409,
Buchanan House, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK, G4 OBA
Email: Caroline.HollinsMartin@gcal.ac.uk
Bully for you
Abstract
Bullying and harassment is a significant predicament that midwives face on a
somewhat regular basis (Bully on line, 2009; Curtis et al., 2006; Dimond,
2002; Hollins Martin & Bull, 2006). Bullying and harassment may be
characterised by unpleasant, threatening, malevolent or offensive behaviour. It
involves abuse or misuse of power intended to undermine, humiliate,
denigrate or harm the recipient. Deliberate bullying and/or harassment can
have a major impact upon physical and mental health, as well as function
within role. There are consequences for the persecutor, victim and institution
in terms of health, cost and reputation. The objective of this paper is to provide
managers with solutions to diminish levels of bullying and harassment within
maternity units. To this effect, a bullying and harassment protocol has been
written to guide managers a propos strategies they can use to diminish the
intensity of bullying and harassment within their unit. To audit success, the
Hollins Martin Bullying and Harassment Scale (BAHS) has been devised to
measure effectiveness of interventions targeted at reducing the problem.
Word count - 4,142
Keywords – bullying, harassment, midwives, protocol, BAHS
Key Points
(1) Evidence shows that bullying and harassment is a very real problem
for many midwives in their daily working lives.
(2) The price of bullying and harassment are injurious to an
organisation in terms of reputation, manpower and administration.
(3) In accordance with the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974), employers
must take legal responsibility for protecting the health and safety of their
staff.
(4) A thoughtfully conceived protocol has been written to facilitate resolve of
reported bullying and harassment cases.
(5) The Hollins Martin Bullying and Harassment Scale (BAHS) may be used
to measure extent, success or failure of an implementation aimed at
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reducing a particular bullying/harassment episode.
Bully for you
Bullying for some people is a familiar event in their daily working life.
Health care employees account for around 12% of over 10,000 cases of
bullying reported to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line between
1996 and 2002. Surveys by Unison and the Royal College of Midwives have
shown that 33% of employees in healthcare experience bullying (Bully on
Line, 2009), with 85% claiming to have witnessed or been the target of bullies
(Hoban, 2004). A survey by the Royal College of Nursing (Ball et al, 2002)
found that 1 in 6 nurses assert to have been the victim of bullying, with 41%
identifying that the bully was in fact their immediate line manager. Bullying and
harassment in hospitals is not unique to midwives or nurses, with 37% of
junior doctors’ reporting episodes of being bullied with those of ethnic
minorities more at risk (Quinn, 2002).
Randle (2003) interviewed student nurses and found bullying
commonplace, with the problem effecting self esteem. Some of those
interviewed surprisingly reported having witnessed patients also being bullied
by qualified staff. At least 10% of bullied staff exhibit symptoms of Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), with 80% failing to report the situation
because the persecutor was their manager (Tehrani, 2004).
Aquino (2000) analysed workplace victimisation and management
styles and found bullying commonplace when organisational bureaucracy,
power differentials and competition are present. The idea that the bully is
more often a weak inadequate person who does not know better is a
somewhat outmoded concept (Aquino, 2000; Lewis, 2006; Raynor, 2000).
Bullies are more often highly articulate and acutely aware of what they do.
That is, many bullies are decidedly skilled at manipulating contexts and of
playing power games to their advantage.
Definition of bullying and harassment
So what constitutes bullying? Bullying is the act of intentionally causing harm
to others through verbal harassment, physical assault or other more subtle
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methods of manipulation and coercion (Manchester University, 2009). Currently
in the UK there is no legal definition of bullying. In contrast, harassment
involves physical or verbal abuse of a person on account of race, religion,
age, gender, disability or any other legally protected status. It is more usual for
an abuser to possess greater physical, social power and dominance than their
victim. Harassment in the workplace creates significant anguish to another,
with the intent to bother, scare or emotionally abuse the person (Life 123,
2009). Categories of harassment include:
(1) Religious harassment - making jokes, teasing about religious
beliefs, practices or clothing.
(2) Gender harassment - behaviours/conversations that debase a
person on grounds of gender.
(3) Age harassment - pressurising the person to retire early.
(4) Racial harassment - offensive words, jokes and gestures in relation
to the persons ethnic group. Harassment may be based on
national origin, with a person’s gestures, comments, symbols and
accent under attack.
(5) Sexual harassment - intimidation, coercion of a sexual nature, or
the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange
for sexual favors (AAUW, 2002).
In contrast, the 3 constituents of bullying include verbal, physical and
emotional offences. A victim of bullying is exposed, repeatedly and over time
to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons. Negative action
occurs when the person intentionally inflicts injury or discomfort upon another,
through physical contact, words or actions designed deliberately to upset them
(Olweus, 1993). For example, bullying may be characterised by unpleasant,
threatening, malevolent or offensive behaviour. It occurs when the abuse or
misuse of power is intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or harm the
recipient. Bullying is considered as a negative behaviour which demonstrates
lack of regard for another. Examples of bullying include:
- Attempts to exclude and socially isolate.
- Degrading a colleague.
- Deliberately withholding information to affect a colleagues performance
- Intimidating behaviour.
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- Mockery, humiliation or ridicule.
- Overruling decisions without a rationale.
- Persecution.
- Purposely withholding relevant information.
- Rudeness.
- Setting unrealistic targets with limited notice or consultation.
- Spreading unfounded rumours.
- Unnecessarily destructive criticism.
- Unwanted sexual advances.
- Verbal abuse.
- Vulgarity.
The costs of bullying and harassment
The costs of bullying are injurious to the organisations reputation and incur
costs in terms of manpower and administration (Lewis, 2006). For example,
Kivimäki et al. (2000) surveyed sickness absence of hospital staff (n = 674
males; n = 4981 females). Data on sickness absence and predictors of health
were measured using a questionnaire. 302 (5%) participants reported being
victims of bullying and reported higher prevalence of chronic disease (1.3 to
1.7), and self certified sickness absence compared with non bullied staff.
It would appear that bullying is a very real concern for midwives
(Davies, 2004; Dimond, 2002; Hadikin & O’Driscoll, 2000), with lack of power
characterised by helplessness, alienation, victimisation, subordination and
oppression, which are terms used by some nurses to describe their position
(Farmer, 1993). Feelings of intimidation may be expressed through language
used by the victim. For example, characterising the perpetrator as intimidating,
frightening and disagreeable (Hollins Martin & Bull, 2006). Fear of conflict has
been shown to cause misery, dread and hurt (Hollins Martin & Bull, 2006). For
example:
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I used to dread nights if he was on. I used to feel physically sick ‘cause I knew if
anything came in he would be so awful…and the bullying part of him didn’t like to
give other people a break.
The costs of being direct with some of these individuals is, one that they tend to go a
shade of puce and they and you know that they are going to make your life a misery
for the next goodness knows how long.
(Hollins Martin & Bull, 2006)
From these statements, the sense of powerlessness felt is palpable.
Within the institutions in which these midwives work, it would appear that a
culture of bullying is considered acceptable. Four steps can be taken to
reduce such a culture:
(1) Encourage midwives to inform their supervisors and managers
when they are being bullied.
(2) Have a structured system of reassurance in place to encourage
staff to report bullying episodes.
(3) Produce a comprehensive protocol of management to deal with
alleged bullying and/or harassment episodes.
Staff are more likely to act when there is a complaint system in place
that offers sufficient confidentiality (Rowe, 1993). Procedures require to be in
position to protect whistleblowers from employer and offender retaliation, such
as termination of contract, suspension, demotion, wage garnishment and/or harsh
mistreatment by other employees.
Who is a target?
It is more often the popular, hard-working and successful midwife who is
singled out for bullying, and not the weak and inefficient (Douglas, 2001).
“Passive victims” of bullying are often cautious, sensitive, quiet, have few
friends, a negative view of themselves and their situation, consider them self a
failure and feel stupid, ashamed or unattractive. In contrast, “proactive victims”
of bullying are more likely to display anxious and aggressive reaction patterns
that involve difficult behaviour, such as expressed irritation, tension, negativity
and retaliation. These response behaviours can be negatively evaluated and
may discourage peers from providing support. Bullying is more likely to occur
when a person is shy, lacks close friends in the workplace, has a current
crisis, is from a different racial or ethnic group, has a disability or displays
provocative and inappropriate behaviour (Randall, 1997).
Effects of bullying on the profession
Curtis et al. (2006) studied why midwives leave the profession. 29% of
respondents in the Curtis et al. (2006) study agreed that they sometimes felt
bullied by their managers. On examination, some of these senior people were
6
unwilling to label their behaviour as bullying. In fact, examples were provided
of situations where inappropriate behaviour was condoned. Fear of upsetting
the perpetrators of the bullying and/or harassment episode was cited as the
main reason for acceptance of such deficient behaviour. On the whole, heads
of midwifery are aware of the predicament of bullying in the workplace,
recognising the problem as cultural rather than an individualistic issue (Curtis
et al, 2006). Although there are efforts to shift bullying cultures, figures show
that much yet remains to be done (Ball et al, 2002; Bully on Line, 2009;
Tehrani, 2004). Although bullying and horizontal violence can have
devastating effects on the individual, only a small minority of midwives (2%)
cited it as the main reason for leaving the profession (Curtis et al., 2006).
Arguing against Curtis et al. (2006), Gillen et al. (2009) surveyed the
effects of bullying behaviour on student midwives (n = 400), with 42%
considering leaving the course. In 27% of cases, the reason for considering
leaving in the first three months was because of poor interpersonal
relationships with particular members of staff.
Harassment in the workplace has been identified as a reason for
leaving the midwifery profession by Ball et al. (2002). Begley (1997)
reported that 54% (n = 64) of student midwives in her study stated that
they thought of leaving the course in the first three months, and 50% (n
= 59) thought of leaving at some stage from the fourth month to the end
of their programme. Such results support that bullying and harassment
does have an effect on retention rates, in particular at the lower more
vulnerable end of the hierarchy.
Stress experienced
Hansen et al. (2006) studied experiences of those bullied or who had
witnessed offences at work. Self-reported health symptoms and physiological
stress were analysed in a sample of 437 employees (n = 294 women; n = 143
men). 5% of female participants (n = 15) and 5% of male (n = 7) reported
experiences of being bullied. In addition, 9% of women (n = 25) and 11% of
the men (n = 15) detailed witnessing episodes of bullying in the workplace.
Bullied respondents described experiences of low social support from co-
workers and supervisors. They also reported consequential symptoms of
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depression, anxiety and negative emotions in comparison to no bullied
respondents.
Yildirim and Yildirim (2007) surveyed mobbing experiences of nurses.
Female participants (n = 505) were asked questions about mobbing
behaviours, reactions to mobbing incidents and actions taken to escape from
mobbing. The term “mobbing” included workplace terrorising, pressurising,
frightening and belittling by one or more individuals. Results found that an
overwhelming majority (86.5%) of participants reported facing mobbing
behaviour in the workplace in the last 12 months. The most common
strategies used to escape mobbing were “to work harder”, “be more
organised” and “to work more carefully to avoid criticism”. Of major
significance, is that 10% of participants stated that they “considered
committing suicide sometimes” (Yildirim & Yildirim, 2007).
Bullying in the workplace can have serious short and long-term effects
on personal well-being (Hansen et al, 2006; Raynor, 2000). The
consequences can distress the victim, their significant others and those with
whom they work. There are psychological and physical responses to the
stress experienced, from bullying and/or harassment, with injury dependant on
coping skills used by the victim to deal with the problem.
The victim’s decision-making may be affected, with long term stress
promoting burnout, exhaustion, a reduction in motivation and in some
incidences leading to PTSD. PTSD (APA, 1994) is an anxiety disorder that
can develop after exposure to one or more traumatic events that threatened or
caused great harm. The diagnostic criteria for PTSD according to the
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (Text Revision)
(DSM-IV-TR) is summarised as:
(1) Exposure to a traumatic event.
(2) Persistent re-experience (e.g., flashbacks, nightmares).
(3) Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma (e.g.,
avoidance of stimuli and discussions that trigger flashbacks and re-
experience of symptoms of fear and loss of control).
(4) Persistent symptoms of increased arousal (e.g., difficulty falling or
staying asleep, anger and hyper vigilance).
(5) Duration of symptoms more than one month.
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(6) Significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important
areas of functioning (e.g.,,problems with work and relationships).
(APA, 1994).
PTSD is a condition that occurs when the person is traumatised, with
the event constantly replaying in their mind (Weiten & Lloyd, 2006). Chronic
stress is associated with down regulation of some functions of immunity
(Segerstrom & Miller, 2004). It may also increase blood pressure (Ironson,
1992) and levels of substance abuse (Lantz et al, 1998).
To conclude, bullying can have a major impact on the victim’s physical
and mental health, as well as how they function within their role. The victim
may present with a variety of psychosomatic symptoms, which may progress
to a mental health problem. For example:
- Anxiety
- Depression
- Headaches
- Irritability
- Lack of concentration
- Loneliness
- Low self esteem
- Self-harm
- Sleep disturbance
- Social dysfunction
- Stomach aches
- Suicidal thoughts
- Unhappiness
How is bullying behaviour learned?
The evidence shows that some health care professionals have learned how to
competently dominate others through unpleasant rather than fair means, with
the experiencer feeling dominated, miserable and silent. Bullies display
characteristics such as quick temper, intolerance and dismissiveness. They
learn how to bully in their elementary years, with successful repetition in
getting their own way through utilising deviant strategies. Such learned
behaviour perpetuates into adulthood and spills over into their work life
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(Keeling et al, 2006). The likely explanation for this is learned behaviour in the
workplace and an environment of acceptance (Lewis, 2006).
Reward and punishment are the key tools for conditioning bullying
behaviour, with a feeling of reward delivered to the perpetrator immediately
following a bullying action (Domjan, 2003). For example, the bully may
experience a sense of power in a situation where they would otherwise feel
powerless. When the victim of the offence shows deference, the bully in effect
gets their reward and way. That is, the perpetrator’s successful manipulation
is positively reinforced when it is followed by a pleasant feeling. This in turn
increases the frequency of use of the bullying strategy to yet again achieve
the positive reward.
In stark contrast, the bullying behaviour is punished when it is followed
by an unpleasant unfavourable stimulus. For example, the bully experiences
an unpleasant sense of powerlessness when the victim of the offence
retaliates, instead of giving the desired response. Such bullying behaviour is
said to be negatively reinforced when it is followed by an unpleasant
unfavourable response. This in turn decreases frequency of use of the bullying
strategy (see Fig 1).
FIGURE 1 HERE
This understanding of rewards and punishments for bullying behaviour
is important, since midwives learn as much about how to behave towards
others as they do about competence during clinical placement in maternity
units. Midwives must strive not to be bullies or victims, but instead aim to have
more cooperative and fulfilling working lives.
Managing the situation
Modern management must voice a lack of acceptance for such patterns of
domination within the workplace. In accordance with the Health and Safety at
Work Act (1974), employers must take legal responsibility for protecting the
health and safety of their staff whilst at work. The Sex Discrimination Act
(1975), the Race Relations Act (1976) and the Disability Discrimination Act
(1995) make any form of bullying or harassment that involves gender, race or
disability an offence. Consequently, it is essential for managers to strive to
reduce bullying and harassment in maternity units by means of thoughtfully
10
conceived policies, programmes and practices (Tehrani, 2004). Through
writing protocols (for example see Fig 2), midwives can counter the problem
whether they themselves are:
(1) being victimised.
(2) they are victimising others.
(3) they witness others being bullied or harassed.
FIGURE 2 HERE
The situation is redeemable if qualified staff transform their practice
and the context in which bullying occurs. If not, each generation of new
midwives will continue to be socialised into negative practices that undermine
their own feelings of self-worth and the standard of care that they deliver
(Randle, 2003).
To measure the extent of bullying and harassment and success of
implementations at reducing such in the workplace, the Hollins Martin Bullying
and Harassment Scale (BAHS) has been devised for use before and after an
intervention, or simply to assess general perspectives of staff (see Fig 3).
FIGURE 3 HERE
The BAHS is scored using a 5-point Likert scale based on level of
agreement with each statement. Five of the items of the BAHS are reverse
scored with a range of scores between 10-50. A total score of 10 represents
no bullying and/or harassment in the workplace and a score of 50 a lot, e.g:
(Q8) Right now I work in an environment beset with dominating and oppressive
people.
Strongly Agree Neither Agree Disagree Strongly
Agree or Disagree Disagree
Scores1 5 4 3 2 1
Defining bullying and harassment is a complex issue, since there are
multi facets and imprecise features. An attempt has been made to capture the
1 Note: The scores are not shown on the BAHS but are shown here for illustration.
11
generalised meaning of the concept and develop a measuring tool to diagnose
the extent of the problem within the workplace. BAHS scores will provide
general measures of bullying/harassment that midwives perceive they are
exposed to.
From a research perspective, the BAHS has potential in terms of
development. There is an identified need for validity and reliability tests to
justify its use. With further development the BAHS could be used to:
(1) Identify the general extent of bullying/harassment within maternity
wards or units.
(2) Measure the magnitude of affect of bullying/harassment upon
individual midwives experience.
(3) Measure success of an intervention implemented to reduce the
bullying and/or harassment episodes.
(4) Establish correlates with other psychometric measures, i.e., self-
esteem, sickness absence, depression, job satisfaction.
(3) Evaluate systems of management as a stand alone instrument or
as a screening test prior to in depth qualitative work.
Finding out more about what causes bullying and harassment in the
workplace will help maternity care managers improve standards of job
fulfillment and reduce staff attrition rates.
Conclusion
Discussions have focused upon what bullying and harassment means for
midwives. What is clear, is that working within a culture of bullying and
harassment is distressing to those who exist in it (Hadikin & O’Driscoll, 2000),
with implementation of anti-bullying measures one means of tackling the
problem. Management have a duty to safeguard the health and safety of
employees, which has as much to do with mental health as it does physical
wellbeing (Dimond, 2002). There is a breach of duty, when it is reasonably
foreseeable to management that the employee was subject to unacceptable
stress at work and that no action was taken by the employer to reduce or
relieve the situation. According to the “law of negligence”, the bullying episode
is considered in terms of duty, breach, causation and harm, with all four
elements demonstrated for the complainant to succeed in obtaining
12
compensation. Harm suffered by the employee from the bullying and
harassment episodes must include a diagnosed mental illness and reasonable
foresee ability by the employer. This involves the complainant providing clear
evidence that their manager could have predicted that they were at risk and
action was not taken to prevent the situation (Dimond, 2002).
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Fig 1. Diagram of reinforced or punished bullying/harassing behaviour
Bullying/harassing
behaviour
Perpetrator Perpetrator
rewarded punished
by good by bad
feelings feelings
Perpetrator Perpetrator
repeats does not repeat
successful unsuccessful
bullying bullying
strategy strategy
(1) Provide support for staff who are being accused of bullying or harassment.
19
Fig 2. Example of a bullying and harassment protocol
The purpose of this policy is to support a culture in which bullying and harassment is
considered totally unacceptable behaviour.
To whom does this policy apply?
This policy applies to all staff working within the maternity unit.
Aim
To provide a happy and fulfilling environment in which staff are treated with respect and
consideration, with bullying and harassment not tolerated in any shape or form.
Personal responsibility
Staff carry personal responsibility for ensuring that their conduct within the workplace is
appropriate. New staff should be made aware of this policy and given bullying or
harassment awareness training. Staff are encouraged to report to their manager,
supervisor and/or trade union representative any incidents of bullying and harassment
they witness. All allegations will be taken seriously and assurance provided that no
victimisation will occur against the employee who makes a complaint or provides
support to a colleague with a grievance.
Disciplinary offence
Bullying and harassment may be labelled a disciplinary offence and where an allegation
is founded, may lead to summary dismissal. Disciplinary action will be taken where a
grievance is found to have been fabricated and submitted in malevolence.
What is bullying and harassment?
Bullying may be characterised by unpleasant, threatening, malevolent or offensive
behaviour. It occurs when the abuse or misuse of power is intended to undermine,
humiliate, denigrate or harm the recipient. Bullying and harassment are considered
negative behaviours which demonstrate lack of regard for another. Examples of bullying
and harassment include:
- Attempts to exclude and socially isolate.
- Degrading a colleague.
- Deliberately withholding information to affect a colleague’s performance.
- Intimidating behavior.
- Mockery, humiliation or ridicule.
- Overruling decisions without a rationale.
- Persecution.
- Purposely withholding relevant information.
- Rudeness.
- Setting unrealistic targets with limited notice or consultation.
- Spreading unfounded rumours.
- Unnecessarily destructive criticism.
- Unwanted sexual advances.
- Verbal abuse.
- Vulgarity.
Compliance with this protocol
Staff have personal responsibility for their own behaviour and are expected to:
(1) Role model positive behaviour at all times, e.g., treat others with respect.
(2) Be aware of this policy and comply with it (frame it and put it on the wall in a
prominent position within the unit).
20
Fig 2 continued. Example of a bullying and harassment protocol
(3) Challenge and report offensive behaviour to self or others.
(4) Provide support for bullied or harassed staff.
Make records
Record dates, times and details of recalled bullying and harassment episodes. Retain
a file of correspondence, e.g., emails, letters and records of meetings. All complaints,
correspondence and interviews must be treated with strict confidentiality. Breaches
are subject to disciplinary action.
Responsibility of managers
(1) Implement this bullying and harassment policy.
(2) Ensure staff are familiar with this bullying and harassment policy.
(3) Take every complaint of bullying/harassment seriously.
(4) Deal with all grievances promptly.
(5) Provide the victim and alleged perpetrator with support during the enquiry
process.
(6) Set positive examples of respect and acceptable behaviour at all times.
(7) Promote an environment where bullying and harassment is considered
unacceptable.
(8) Tackle and resolve all incidents of bullying and harassment.
(9) Seek advice and support from human resources where required.
Role of human resources
The department of human resources are responsible for ensuring that the policy is
followed impartially and consistently. Responsibilities include:
(1) Providing staff with workshops that involve simulated situations of bullying and
harassment and appropriate resolution strategies.
(2) Provide continued support and advice to managers about individual episodes.
(3) Audit effectiveness of this bullying and harassment policy.
(4) Monitor incidences of bullying and harassment and benchmark levels of
success.
(5) Be committed to resolving complaints.
(6) Provide advice and support to complainants, alleged perpetrators and
witnesses of bullying and harassment episodes.
(7) Train appropriate persons for roles in due process, e.g.
Support workers
These are voluntary members of staff who have opted to
undertake specialist training in how to manage alleged incidents
of bullying and harassment. Their role is to provide independent
confidential support to the complainant and/or harasser. Duties
involve providing empathetic assistance and explaining official
procedures involved in making an informal or formal complaint.
Counselors
Trained councilors attempt to provide support and resolve for victim
and alleged harasser. This may be achieved via a telephone and face
to face counseling service.
(8) Where necessary refer either party to occupational health.
Informal process
(1) Encourage both complainant and alleged harasser to make use of their
trade union representative. A mediator can be contacted when the complainant
does not want to directly confront the alleged harasser. The mediator should
agree steps to be taken to assist resolution of the situation.
or so I have read a great deal of it, as well as making many contributions personally.
21
Fig 2 continued. Example of a bullying and harassment protocol
(2) Inform the alleged harasser of the complaint and ask them to change their
behaviour towards the complainant (this cannot be done without the consent of
the complainant).
(3) The mediator should meet both parties separately before advising on steps in
the process. In a joint meeting, the complainant should be offered the
opportunity to explain why the alleged harasser’s behaviour constitutes
bullying and/or harassment. If achievable, difficulties should be resolved
through informal discussion, with agreed terms for future behaviour.
Encourage staff and supporters to:
(1) Maintain diaries of events, e.g., records of dates, times, witnesses, feelings at
time of encounter and after.
(2) If the alleged bully/harasser is aggressive, make it clear that their behaviour is
unacceptable and leave.
(3) When the complainant/mediator feels unable to raise the report with the alleged
bully/harasser directly, place it in writing stating where the incident occurred and
the preferred communication style. Warn that if the bullying/harassment does
not cease a formal complaint will be registered.
Often the complaint is resolved quickly by explaining directly to the alleged perpetrator
the effect their behaviour is having on the complainant. When informal attempts to find
resolution are unsuccessful, the trade union representative and/or Human Resources
(HR) manager may, with consent of the complainant instigate a formal process.
Formal process
(1) Where bullying/harassment is apparent, the senior manager, HR manager,
complainant and trade union representative must jointly be involved in the
disciplinary procedure.
(2) A detailed response is given to both parties, which outlines the results from the
investigation and what further action will be taken. Where the trust disciplinary
policy has been breached, the bullying/harassment episode may be viewed as
serious misconduct. This will also apply if the complainant’s behaviour is
regarded as malicious.
(3) Set a target of two months for completion of the formal investigation. In
complex situations this may not always be achievable.
Follow up
When bullying and/or harassment has occurred, monitor the situation to assess that the
offensive behaviour has ceased.
22
Fig 3. Hollins Martin Bullying and Harassment Scale (BAHS)
(1) Currently I am being bullied and/or harassed by a colleague in my workplace.
(2) Right now I feel reasonably happy at work.
(3) At the moment I have constructive relationships with my colleagues.
(4) At this point in time I work in an atmosphere free of oppressive undermining
co-workers.
(5) In my current workplace senior staff are generally respectful towards me.
(6) At present my work peers value my opinion.
(7) In my current work environment my judgments about situations are
discounted by particular colleagues.
(8) Right now I work in an environment beset with dominating and oppressive
people.
(9) At the moment I feel somewhat miserable at work.
(10) Currently I have difficult relationships with particular people at work.
... The latter are known to generally rise in times of pandemics (Boserup et al., 2020;Bradbury-Jones and Isham, 2020;Campbell, 2020;Taub, 2020;Usher et al., 2020) and are further facilitated by an elevated consumption of alcohol (Campbell, 2020;Catalá-Miñana et al., 2017). Domestic violence may reach from verbal aggression to bullying among siblings or adults (Hollins Martin and Martin, 2010;, domestic abuse to physical violence especially towards children and women (Thackeray et al., 2010;Taub, 2020), and even murder of family members (reviewed in Bradbury-Jones and Isham, 2020). Domestic violence with high rates of repeated victimization (Howard et al., 2010) and the chronic threat of being maltreated are not only sources of broken bones and trauma, but have been associated with general distress, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal diseases, self-harm, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and increased suicidal risk (Bergman and Brismar, 1991;Campbell, 2002;Golding, 1999;Hollins Martin and Martin, 2010;Kaslow et al., 2002;Lucas et al., 2016;Sharhabani-Arzy et al., 2003;. ...
... Domestic violence may reach from verbal aggression to bullying among siblings or adults (Hollins Martin and Martin, 2010;, domestic abuse to physical violence especially towards children and women (Thackeray et al., 2010;Taub, 2020), and even murder of family members (reviewed in Bradbury-Jones and Isham, 2020). Domestic violence with high rates of repeated victimization (Howard et al., 2010) and the chronic threat of being maltreated are not only sources of broken bones and trauma, but have been associated with general distress, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal diseases, self-harm, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and increased suicidal risk (Bergman and Brismar, 1991;Campbell, 2002;Golding, 1999;Hollins Martin and Martin, 2010;Kaslow et al., 2002;Lucas et al., 2016;Sharhabani-Arzy et al., 2003;. The pandemic-induced lockdowns exacerbate the tense psychosocial situation for the victims without chances to escape the domestic conflict zone for other activities. ...
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... Policy about behaviour is an important feature of a clinical workplace, but on its own has been shown to be generally ineffective for changing it; policy is of course necessary, to set out standards and limits of staff behaviour [1,22,40,41,[56][57][58][59], legitimise a complaint [9] and explicate complaints processes, and overall to promulgate professional values [18,57]. While in some cases [59] policy has been shown to be more effective where used in conjunction with a structured and easy to follow action plan for management, authors universally stress that policy alone, or instigated as a bullying 'intervention' is unlikely to affect staff behaviour [55,57,58,[60][61][62][63][64][65][66]. Authors justify failure variously: lack of engagement with policy (e.g. ...
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