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How to handle bullying within your organisation

By Andy Shettle, Chief Product Officer of ER Tracker
Updated on the 14/12/2021

We live in a new world of work where soft skills, emotional intelligence and informality have replaced old hierarchies dominated by a command and control style. But bullying and harassment have stayed with us. It’s become more hidden, more complex, more personal and painful. Bullying has a smiling face.

TUC research claims a third of the UK workforce has been bullied. We know bullying of employees leads to stress and poor mental health, to more long-term absenteeism, higher staff turnover rates, lower productivity and an insidious negativity that seeps throughout a workplace culture.

When it comes to bullying every organisation is in the spotlight.

Earlier this year Care Quality Commission stated bullying and victimisation of staff – and failing to take “appropriate action” about it – can result in dismissal under the fit and proper person test, with Directors  liable for dismissal for failing to stop bullying.

According to a 2021 report from CIPD, employers should be especially aware of ‘cyber bullying’. Detrimental texts sent via mobiles or images of work colleagues posted on external websites following work events could amount to bullying for which the employer could be liable. Their research found that cyber-bullying is more common than inappropriate behaviour at a work social event, with one in ten employees reporting that it happened.

The regular issued new guidance after concerns were raised that people were unsure what was considered “serious misconduct and mismanagement” the term used in the FPP regulation.

CQC chief inspector of hospitals Ted Baker told the HSJ that nearly a quarter of NHS staff reported feeling bullied at work. He said this was a “reflection of the culture in the NHS” and that is was “losing staff” as a result.

It’s easy for an organisation to shout about its zero-tolerance position on bullying. Too easy. It’s not going to help.
On the one hand it makes employees less likely to speak out. Bullied staff are already three times less likely to make a complaint (according to the CIPD), due to feelings of embarrassment and the fear of worsening relationships and threats to their job. And it only makes bullies change tactics to stay under the radar.

According to ACAS, any complaint of bullying, should be taken seriously.

If it is not, the problem might be raised as a formal grievance later, or it may lead to an employment tribunal if it’s not resolved.

Taking it seriously will:

  • show you are working to make the workplace fair
  • give employees confidence to raise an issue
  • help stop and prevent unacceptable behaviour
  • prevent legal action

To learn more about dealing with bullying in the workplace you can complete the form below to access our free guide which provide lots of information including policies, communication and training and how to develop a culture of respect.

Complete the form to download the full whitepaper


CQC: Care Quality Commission is the independent regulator of health and social care in England.

For more details on Regulation 5: Fit and proper persons: director s under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2015: Regulation.

The intention of this regulation is to ensure that people who have director level responsibility for the quality and safety of care, and for meeting the fundamental standards are fit and proper to carry out this important role.

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