3 Signs of Bullying in the Workplace


Gary BuryCo-Founder and CEO of Timetastic

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Bullying in the workplace can take place in many forms and affect your employees. Here are a few signs you need to look out for.

Article 3 Minutes
3 Signs of Bullying in the Workplace

The word 'bullying' can conjure up unpleasant images of the playground. But bullying isn't confined to teenagers and schooldays - it can happen to anyone, at any age and research published by the TUC shows that almost a third of people are bullied at work. The poll reveals:

  • Nearly a third of people (29%) have been bullied at work
  • Women (34%) are more likely to be victims of bullying than men (23%)
  • The highest prevalence of workplace bullying is among 40 to 59-year-olds, where 34% of people are affected
  • In nearly three-quarters (72%) of cases, bullying is carried out by a manager
  • More than one in three (36%) people who report being bullied at work quit their job

Workplace bullying causes mental health problems and can affect morale, productivity and employee engagement. Recognizing bullying in the workplace can be difficult as it's not always overtly visible - it can be subtle, hidden, it can be many small incidents over a long period rather than one action. It might be a group of people doing the bullying, rather than one individual.

The person being bullied may be reluctant to speak out for various reasons - perhaps they're new to the company and are under the impression this is just the way things are, or maybe they're too shy, too self-conscious, or don't want to be considered weak.

Bullying isn't always easy to spot, but there are some clear signs to look out for.

1. Isolation and exclusion

Is there a member of staff who always sits on their own and is never involved in the office chit-chat? Of course, they may prefer to spend their breaks in solitude instead of going out with their colleagues. But if they're never invited to social events or other group activities, and conversations stop when they approach or walk into the room, are they being excluded intentionally?

2. Lateness and absenteeism

If someone's attendance and timekeeping is usually impeccable, but they've started to regularly phone in sick or arrive late to work, they might be avoiding someone in the office who's giving them a hard time or making them feel uncomfortable. Of course, the reason for this change in behavior could be down to pressures at home or other outside factors, but whatever the reason, a friendly, quiet word would be advisable here to find out what the problem is and to see how or if you can help.

3. Criticism and credit-taking

Constructive criticism is perfectly valid and acceptable. It helps people to do their job to the best of their abilities, but if the criticism is unwarranted and undermines or humiliates an individual, then this is considered to be bullying. So, if you hear someone - or hear rumors of someone - constantly criticizing another's work, ask yourself if the criticism is founded or is it unnecessary and over the top. Another form of bullying to look out for is one team member constantly taking the praise and credit for the work of another without giving them due acknowledgment.

The effects of bullying in the workplace

Apart from the possible effects of bullying on staff (such as a decline in happiness, wellbeing and self-esteem and an increase in stress and anxiety), there are plenty of costs to the business itself, including:

  • Loss of productivity and profit
  • Higher absenteeism
  • Increased turnover of staff
  • Decreased morale and loyalty
  • Damaged reputation
  • Possible lawsuits

Bullying in the workplace needs to be identified and stopped. If you suspect it's taking place, it needs to be reported as soon as possible to the relevant manager or department and dealt in accordance with company policies. Train all your managers to deal with bullying and let everyone know there's a zero-tolerance policy in place.

Gary Bury

Co-Founder and CEO of Timetastic


Gary Bury is co-founder and CEO of Timetastic, an independent and profitable web app for managing time off work, used by thousands of companies around the world.


Join the conversation...

12/05/2022 Trish Bell
I'm bullied in this job I've been at for only three months. I'm 56, the others are 30-40 and they go out of their way to make me look dumb. They yell things to make me want to run away. I'm nice to them to try to make them stop. Its not working. I've never been treated this way.
14/05/2022 Valia Patterson
I am being bullied at work
19/05/2022 Eva-Adelle White
I’ve have for 9 months and being made out to be the instigator because I stood amd defended myself , I’m unhappy at work my passion is gone for it I go home on bits at least 2/3 times a week. Hr were not helpful amd I don’t know where to turn
03/06/2022 Chris Hollis
What laws protect workers from bullyism
07/06/2022 Michelle
I’m being bullied at work by the school caretaker should I put a grievance in against him
19/06/2022 Anita Fern
I have worked at the company for 13 years and got a job in a different department. After 3 days the bullying started. The person constantly belittles me and talkes about me to other collegues while i am sat there. I have had 3 mths of isolation and humilation. I am upset most evenings and feel very alone.
24/06/2022 Anisa
I’m new hire at my office, two coworkers who are half my Age keeps saying something that’s not true. Stating that there’s no day without me not breaking the computer. It’s just because I’m not familiar with the applications the company use and I need to know how to respond to the message that pops up on the screen every now and then. They constantly mention “you broke the computer” again when in fact it’s not broken. It feel like I’m being bullied all the time. Also they act more like a mean boss rather than supportive coworkers.
30/06/2022 Sandy
I am being bullied at work I’ve been in the company for 5 years I got promoted and every since I have this women who now has another employee joining her on the bullying. I can’t seem to win with them I’m over it. I honestly am so miserable at my job I can’t take it anymore I’m writing my two weeks notice.
23/07/2022 Paola Flores
Hello I’ve been bullied since day 2 at my current job. I’ve been telling the manager since it’s started and it’s just getting worse. Now I feel like I’m the problem for being reserved and catty and isolated because of the constant negativity. I suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts and the manager knows this and it’s just making my mental health worse. I don’t know what else to do
25/07/2022 Diane Fraine
I am retired now, but I am still feeling the trauma of being bullied by a previous director of a very prestigious hospital. I worked there part time for seven years and was only out sick one day during all those years. Any time I did take off was a planned vacation. I received monitery awards, was nominated for a very prestigious award and received a small promotion, all while taking care of two special needs children, along with my husband. I worked evenings so that I could be able to advocate for them at school. My oldest son, as a young teenager, became suicidal in school and had to be home schooled for a while, just until we could get him in a special school to help him. When I asked for a family medical leave of absence, the bullying started. I was given the family medical leave, but after a few weeks time, when my son was placed in a special school, I did not return to work there. I knew that going back there would never be the same. I was going through so much that I mentally could not handle the possibility of being bullied again. I did not attempt to press charges, as I was not able to handle anything more and they did give me the leave. This was an extremely traumatic experience that lives on in my memory, especially being a hospital. I do not ever want to step foot into that hospital ever again!
30/07/2022 Cares alot
I’m being bullied and recognized it.. I went to HR a few weeks ago. HR said “ this is the way it is and always has been “ those people always do it to the new person. Finally I had enough last Monday and called one of the 4 out in a meeting. I got my hands slapped by HR. Then I was being reprimanded in an email because the 4 of them lying and HR Being one of them. Called corp and complained on me. So now corp is making me apologize to them. How is this right.
03/08/2022 Lori Ryan
Do any of you work in the Office of Human Resources? Have you ever been Bullied by the HR Director or a Supervisor that has a higher power than the HR Director actually does?
17/08/2022 Julie Cox
A work colleague is being bullied and victimised by her senior manager. What can I do to help her
20/08/2022 Susir
I have been bullied so many times in the NHS. Seems worse by young colleagues. I am over 55.
24/08/2022 Berni S.
Being bullied at work is the worst feeling i had my entire life. I felt so belittled and humiliated. I have had depression, anxiety and felt isolated. I cannot sleep and eat for weeks. There were suicidal thoughts. This is such a toxic place to be. I am not happy at all. I do not care about the benefits anymore, i am giving my 2 weeks notice.
04/09/2022 Pamela Glass
My name is Pamela Glass I'm 55 years old . I work for a cleaning service where I have multiple contracts the Place where my boss & I are being bullied at came out of nowhere on the week of 8/25/22 when I went on vacation. My boss & a few co-workers covered my shift you see our contract gets bounced around from person to person at this location so Jarrod had it first then Evan was over our contract & he fired a coworker of mines & gave me the entire contract because they were getting lots of complaints on her & the Previous person never check on the complaints but Evan did so he let her go .well because she was the person that kept HR informed of any & everything that was said or done. Now HR has no informant & no control over our contract anymore & she was highly upset so in a since HR has to play nice which is what the HR lady did for a year until our contract fell back into her lap the week of 8/25/22 out of nowhere she contacts my boss & tells him she doesn't want me nowhere around her or in her presence so she fired me & my boss begs her to let me stay because no one else will drive that far to do that job so they have my co worker doing the front office area & I do the entire warehouse now she said told my boss if I say anything to anyone in that building about what she did she will drop our contract!!!
06/09/2022 Sheila mcaughtrie
It’s really weird and very frustrating when the bully’s get away with the torment they put people through, I got yelled at and abused by a member of staff another member of staff heard and I’m shocked that she stuck up for the bully, but that was after she’d told her I’m not getting involved and I said you’ve made a huge mistake your life will be miserable now and rather than tell the actual truth she manipulated the conversation and I’m appalled and seriously struggling with the unjust of it. rnI have had no choice but to leave because I cannot take anymore of the unnecessary stress, it’s so frustrating when you know your manager believes you but nothing can be done, I give up, because no matter what I’d rather be true and respect myself enough. Hurt doesn’t even begin to tell you how I feel and today I’ve felt suicidal. I’m 57 and this is just beyond what I expected at this age in life. rnThe liars, the manipulators they get away with it. Why?
08/09/2022 Janet Oxley
I really need help how I’m being bulling at work by the owner I have been there for over 1 year and 6 month she had me moved to help her in the store to help run it she never let me she talk to me like a I’m so dummy last week she said I would kiss a person ass and lick it if they ask me too that’s just a little what I’m going though I need the job only my mental health cannot take this anymore I like to find out what my legal rights are Thanks I hope to hear from you .
19/09/2022 Naika Torres
But what happen when you report that you are been bullied and harassed to your managers and instead of be protected they look the other way? And in this case many of the hostility at my job is because managers are the one provoking the situation,for example,a coworker complained about a situation and the manager told the other coworker,didn’t resolved the situation but put the other coworker in a precarious position which she was bullied more aggressively by the same coworker,decided to take it and not reported out of fear that the situation would got worse
19/09/2022 chelcey spencer
hello i live in a supported living home and i get picked on by 2 staff members for using my own money on myself and they comstally make inapprate comments too me like oh your attention seeking stop attention seeking when i dont attention seek at all and constally say that i am drama queen and write false reports on me too make me look bad and they try abd play the mangers off against me on purpose and when i stick up for myself they accuse me off bullying them
29/09/2022 Amanda
I started being bullied at a federal job. The National Weather Service is a terrible place to work, wish I had known 13 years ago.
30/09/2022 Mrs Hannah Rouse
I have worked in my job for the NHS for 3 years and have been bullied over the last year or so, since a new member of staff had joined our team. I am constantly been shown up over ‘my mistakes’ in front of everyone including clinicians. Constantly being picked on regarding my time keeping but not the others. Excluded from conversations. Has made me feel so low, I’m having to resign
03/10/2022 Anonymous
I’ve been bullied the past month since I started…no communication with my workers and more so I feel as if my boss is bullying me…and doesn’t even apologize!!..it makes me not wanna go back…that’s how BAD it is…I lost my enthusiasm and its so uncomfortable for me to go back…I DON’T know what I’m gonna do…
14/10/2022 jaafar bennouna
I have been bullied/harassed and intimidated after my 28 year of service to a well known health care organization as well as my colleagues. I'm 57 and the leaders are 30-40 . they are trying every trick in there book to push me out as they did to many employees ( HR is aware but said they can't confirm ) . it's becoming unsafe to focus on treatment of Cancer patients and be under the Gun . I have No choice but to seek legal advise .