Leah Panapa: Bullying in the Workplace

Opinion 12/04/2019

By Leah Panapa, Magic Nights host.

Nearly half of kiwis have experienced bullying or harassment at work because of gender, ethnicity, age, disability or sexual orientation.

According to Recruitment Experts Hays the figures are ‘shocking’, and in a time when we are more aware than ever of making sure we try to be inclusive and not offend or discriminate.

Fifty percent of women and the same figure of mature age people said they had experienced bullying of some description, while fewer men than women reported it, and 15% chose to leave the organisation rather than report the behaviour.

So what exactly constitutes bullying/harassment. Well the list is quite long, and here are just a few examples. 

Threats of violence, insulting, being yelled at, teasing, ‘jokes’ and sarcasm, persistent criticism, suggestive glances or gestures, but even denial of opportunity, changing goalposts, unreasonable monitoring and lack of role clarity can all be seen as bullying. 

According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, workplace bullying is defined as ‘repeated and unreasonable behaviour; it can be between co-workers, and even involve customers or clients.

For an employer this can be a minefield, even if you think you have a handle on what is being said and done at your workplace, there could be some who interpret situations differently and can start to feel uncomfortable.

I remember when I started in broadcasting in the 80’s it was a very different scene to what it is today. No one seemed to mind their “p’s & q’s”, and looking back there were times things could get a little crass but in all honesty we also talked more openly to each other about how we felt at work.

The bottom line is no one wants to go to work when they feel bullied and it is a serious issue in many workplaces. If you can’t address the person you feel is bullying you directly, (it can be hard to do) you should seek advice from a manager, co-worker, and health and safety representative. 

Leah Panapa is host of Magic Talk Nights.