How to Change Workplace Bullying

workplace bullyingWorkplace stress has become such a growing problem in today’s workplaces that it is quickly become one of the top ten most compensated illness or injury. 

Workplace bullying is now considered a major problem in many industries with recent attention given to the way in which legislation and guidelines address this issue.

The WHS Act provides a framework to protect the health, safety and welfare of people. The term health includes both psychological health as well as physical health. As bullying can affect both the mental and physical condition of a person it is therefore considered a risk that organisations must address under the law.

Workplace bullying is seen as a frequent occurrence that is generally long term in nature and intensifies as time goes on intending to make the victim feel powerless, intimidated or humiliated. While a key in defining workplace bullying is “repeated” behaviour, single events have significant potential to escalate into workplace bullying. Increasing competition, push for more efficiencies and downsizing create toxic environments where workplace bullying can thrive.


It is estimated by industry sources that the annual cost of workplace bullying in Australia ranges between $6 and $36 billion every year.Workplace bullying is prevalent in between 3.5 per cent and 21 per cent of Australian workers.

Workplace bullying is best managed by responding as early as possible. The longer the bullying behaviour continues, the more difficult it is to address and the harder it becomes to repair working relationships. Managers and supervisors should be trained in how to respond to incidents appropriately and teach them the skills to develop productive and respectful workplace relationships.

This is a complex issue that presents many challenges for an organisation so the key lies within a consistent and clear process to prevent bullying from occurring and to respond to any allegations that may arise.

Some factors to consider are:

  • How to identify bullying risk factors. An early intervention process to resolve issues before they become severe and avoid the risk of ongoing workplace bullying taking place.
  • Fostering an organisational culture that is supportive and committed to prevention this should be documented in an organisations code of conduct, policies and procedures.
  • Encouraging open communication and consultation with workers and encourage them to contribute to work health and safety management.
  • Providing training and establish an effective complaint handling process and support system.


About the Author

Safety Concepts is an online resource providing up to date insights and covering issues in the field of Workplace Safety.

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