Week tegen Pesten 2023 Australië International Workplace Bullying Awareness Week in 2023 | Stop Pesten NU


Week tegen Pesten 2023 Australië International Workplace Bullying Awareness Week in 2023

Workplace Bullying Isn’t About A Mean 4th Grader on the Playground. It has Serious Consequences.

October 15-21 is International Workplace Bullying Awareness Week in 2023. This week marks the acknowledgement of psychological terrorism and relational violence that occur in paid and unpaid occupational capacities, and it highlights the social injustice of power structures that are rooted in colonialism but continue to flourish in the present day.

Learn more about workplace bullying and treatment considerations during an AATA Continuing Education session with Megan VanMeter on November 18. 

Most therapists aren’t aware of workplace bullying as a type of trauma. Even though many targets of workplace bullying wind up in therapy due to anxiety, depression, and PTSD, therapists generally aren’t educated about the widespread practice of this abuse. In the U.S. alone, 30% of the population has experienced it directly and another 19% has experienced it vicariously, according to a 2021 survey conducted by the Workplace Bullying Institute. 

And because therapists often don’t understand the mechanisms of workplace bullying, they don’t have the context necessary for helping traumatized clients retain or return to employment. Common outcomes for targets are career derailment, career abandonment, income loss, the depletion of savings, increased health issues, increased medical costs, disability, and even death by suicide.

30% of American workers have experienced workplace bullying directly.

In 2002, France made workplace bullying a criminal offense (Yamada, 2020), but in most countries—including the U.S.—there are no similar legal protections in place for targets. That is why targets largely suffer in silence, with no clear recourse for their occupational and financial losses or for the secondary losses of belonging to oneself and one’s community (Suskind, 2023). Targets cannot publicly name their bullies or the institutions that permitted, and thus promoted, the abuse. Doing so would put targets at risk for legal problems.

Gaslighting, making someone look bad in front of others, setting someone up to fail, ostracizing, excluding, and mobbing are some of the tactics used in workplace bullying. If you recognize that a client is on the receiving end of these insidious behaviors, you may want to direct the client to resources. The Re-VISION newsletter, authored by Dorothy Suskind, PhD, is a great starting place for targets to gain supportive clarity around the abrasive and abusive mystery they’ve been subjected to. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the National Workplace Bullying Coalition’s website is an opportunity for targets to learn about the advocacy efforts aimed at ending this atrocity that affects working people of all ages; knowing that others are taking action in this way can be reassuring and offer hope.

Today I graduated a happy, healthy client who had entered treatment as a depressed, distressed individual. She was already post-workplace bullying by the time we met, and her situation had involved psychological as well as physical violence. As she thanked me for our journey together and her restored sense of belonging, she pointed out that the thing she was most appreciative of was being educated about workplace bullying. Prior to that she had assumed that work was inherently difficult and demoralizing. Her history of childhood trauma had taught her that it was ok to be treated poorly by others. Through treatment she realized that she had experienced a nameable trauma while giving her services as a helping professional, and she experienced it at the hands of someone who had power over her in an institution that was supposed to be about making a difference in the lives of others.

Workplace bullying is not about a mean 4th grader on the playground. It is much more sophisticated than that and results in life-altering consequences for targets in all industries. Even art therapists are on the receiving end of workplace bullying. Please think about the toxic experiences you’ve had as an employee, as a volunteer, and/or as a student. Don’t you wish someone had told you about workplace bullying sooner? International Workplace Bullying Awareness Week is a good time to start having conversations about this trauma-hiding-in-plain-sight with clients, colleagues, and anyone you care about. Let’s break the silence. 



Anti Bullying Week: How To Tackle Workplace Bullying

While many organisations want to believe their organisation is free of bullying and other types of inappropriate behaviour, it’s unfortunately more common than we often think. 

Workplace bullying can have a major negative effect on your company culture, employee wellbeing, satisfaction, and performance. Not to mention your reputation and ability to attract diverse and quality talent.  

This week is Anti-Bullying Week, and an opportune time for organisations and individuals alike to consider the actions that you can take to improve your culture by tackling exclusive behaviours such as bullying.  

In this article, I will share three ways that you can tackle bullying and improve the culture in your workplace: 

1. Be proactive 

Often the approach to anti-bullying and other factors around inclusion is reactive rather than proactive.  This means that the focus is on dealing with the behaviour after the fact – rather than creating the conditions to prevent the exclusive behaviour taking place in the first place – which can erode your culture and staff wellbeing before you even have the opportunity to deal with it. 

To effectively deal with inappropriate behaviour you should be proactive, for example by: 

  • Creating a clear anti-bullying policy and socialising this with staff in different mediums so they are clear on what is and is not acceptable. 
  • Regularly conducting pulse checks to understand the experiences of your colleagues. 
  • Upskilling your team around inclusive behaviours such as micro-affirmations and encouraging them, so that they become normalised. 
  • Ensuring that there is psychological safety in your teams, so people feel comfortable to speak up.  

2. Equip yourself and colleagues to challenge inappropriate behaviour 

While it is important to be proactive and take steps to minimise the risk of bullying, there will still be times where you or your colleagues may encounter bullying behaviour. Therefore, it is important to ensure that everyone is equipped to challenge exclusive behaviour, and to feel comfortable doing so. 

There are a variety of ways to do this, but what we do know, based on our own research and experience, is that it helps to provide individuals with insight into their own inclusivity, which will heighten their awareness of their judgements and behaviours. They should also be given practical techniques to challenge such behaviour and opportunities to practice doing this.

Often people do not challenge bullying because they are not sure how to, or they are fearful of the consequences, or of coming across as confrontational. However, there are many techniques that can be used to gauge the right level of challenge, and to do so effectively requires practice. 

A good step for any organisation to take is to provide interactive programmes and create bite-sized guides or playbooks to support staff to challenge behaviour effectively.

3. Provide clear guidance and support resources 

Unfortunately, many organisations create a bullying and harassment policy simply because it is expected, but do so as a tick box exercise to satisfy compliance and suppliers that they’re ethical. However, because this is often the spirit in which the policy is created it is often not visible (e.g., only in the staff handbook) which means that staff are not living and breathing the policy. Thus, when an incident occurs, staff are sometimes at a loss as to whether the behaviour was inappropriate or not, how to deal with it, and what support might be available to them. As a result, the policy and processes that organisations design may not be as effective as they could be. 

Your bullying and harassment policy should be clear and accessible to all which will increase the likelihood of it being embedded across your organisation. As well as stating the behaviours that are unacceptable, you should provide examples of behaviours that encourage inclusion. There should be clear guidance on how to report instances of bullying and resources to support individuals to challenge bullying behaviours, report them, and deal with the impact.  

One thing that may help here is using space on your intranet and/or newsletters to share information about your anti-bullying policies and practices. 


Using the 3 steps shared above will set you in good stead to improve your culture and set the standard for behaviour in your organisation, not just during Anti-Bullying Week but for years to come. We encourage you to use this guidance to further your approach to bullying and other types of exclusive behaviours. 

At Pearn Kandola we have significant experience partnering with organisations to equip them to be able to be proactive in tackling exclusive behaviours.