Understanding and combating workplace bullying

Understanding and combating workplace bullying
Jobstreet content teamupdated on 23 February, 2024

Workplace bullying is a big problem that affects people across industries and countries. According to a recent study, globally over one in five people face workplace bullying. The survey gathered information from respondents around the globe, including the Philippines

It's important to understand what workplace bullying is. This problem affects both employee welfare and the organization's productivity and morale. To prevent and combat it, we need to explore its various forms and impact. 

In this guide, we'll cover: 

What is workplace bullying? 

Workplace bullying is the repeated mistreatment of employees within the workplace. It is not an isolated incident of conflict. Bullying involves a pattern of behavior. This kind of behavior makes the work environment scary, unfriendly, or hurtful. Examples of these behaviors include verbal abuse, microaggressions, sexual harassment, and manipulating others using power and authority. 

Workplace bullying is not the same for everyone. To understand it, you need to recognize both obvious and subtle behaviors. Managers and workers should work together to find and stop these behaviors. Regular training and programs that raise awareness can create a safe environment. It can also promote a culture of respect and prevent bullying. 

Impact of workplace bullying 

Here are some of the impacts of workplace bullying, including some physical symptoms: 

  • Stress: Bullying can cause chronic stress, triggering the body's fight-or-flight response. Prolonged stress can lead to physical health issues and weaken your immune system. 
  • Low morale: Constant mistreatment can reduce your self-esteem and confidence. Low morale can harm your job performance. It can also hinder your progress and growth in the workplace. 
  • Fatigue: The emotional impact of workplace bullying gives rise to mental exhaustion. It can even cause sleep problems. Fatigue can reduce your productivity and increase the risk of workplace accidents. 
  • Depression or anxiety: Bullying creates a hostile work environment. It causes feelings of isolation and despair. As a result, you may develop clinical depression or anxiety disorders. 

Workplace bullying has a profound impact on the mental health of staff. Bullying victims may experience mental health issues, including increased stress, anxiety, and depression. Here's how persistent bullying can lead to professional burnout over time: 

  • Emotional exhaustion: Experiencing excessive work demands can contribute to emotional exhaustion. This is a key component of professional burnout. 
  • Lack of control: Bullying makes you feel powerless and like you don't have control. You may feel helpless in stopping the bullying, which leads to burnout. 
  • Reduced sense of accomplishment: Constant mistreatment can undermine your sense of achievement. Professional burnout can make you feel like you're not achieving much. This impacts your job performance. 

Examples of workplace bullying 

There are many different types of bullying in the workplace. Recognizing these behaviors is crucial to workplace health. 

Here are some common examples of workplace bullying: 

  • Verbal abuse: This includes name-calling, insults, and offensive language. This can make a person feel small or less important. 
  • Gossip and rumors: Spreading false information or rumors about a coworker can damage their reputation. 
  • Intentional exclusion. Deliberately excluding colleagues from meetings, events, or workplace activities can isolate them. 
  • Undermining work. Consistently undermining a coworker's efforts and achievements is another form of bullying. 
  • Cyberbullying. This is a form of digital harassment using email, social media, or other online platforms. 
  • Threats and intimidation. This includes using tactics, threats, or intimidation to control or manipulate a coworker. 
  • Unfair criticism. Providing unjust or harsh feedback without constructive guidance can constitute unfair criticism. 
  • Micromanagement: Excessive interference in a colleague's work can create a sense of frustration. 
  • Sabotage. Sabotage is the deliberate undermining of a coworker's work to hinder their success.
  • Discrimination: Discrimination is unfair treatment based on race, gender identity, or age. 
  • Work overload. Giving a coworker an excessive workload can contribute to poor health and burnout. 
  • Public humiliation. This involves criticizing or embarrassing a colleague in meetings or public communication. 
  • Withholding information. Keeping crucial information from a coworker can hinder their ability to do their job. 
  • Constant monitoring. Excessive monitoring of a colleague's work can create a stressful and intrusive environment. 
  • Mockery. Mockery involves ridiculing a coworker's ideas, opinions, or contributions during meetings or discussions. 

How to stop workplace bullying 

woman stress over workplace bullying

For a healthy work environment, it's essential to prevent and address bullying. You're part of the equation, whether you're an employee, manager, or leader. Here are some practical steps you can take to address bullying in the workplace: 


Empower your workplace culture. Promote a safe and inclusive environment by taking proactive steps to stop bullying behaviors. Consider the following actions to promote a healthy and respectful atmosphere:  

  • Reflect on your actions: Consider your behavior. Make sure you encourage a positive and respectful workplace. 
  • Communicate openly. If you witness bullying or are the victim of it, express your concerns to the person involved. Be calm and assertive, focusing on specific behaviors. 
  • Document incidents: Record bullying incidents, including dates, times, and descriptions. This can help you provide a clear account if needed.
  • Seek support. Speak to colleagues, friends, or family members who can provide emotional support. They may also offer advice on how to handle the situation. 
  • Report to human resources or management. If the issue persists, report it to human resources or management. Provide details and any documentation you have. 
  • Speak up: Speak up if you witness bullying happening to others. Reporting it can make a difference. 


Foster leadership in cultivating a supportive and respectful workplace. You can do this by implementing effective strategies to combat bullying. Here are key actions to guide your efforts in creating a positive work environment: 

  • Address concerns promptly. It's important to act immediately when there are complaints. Show your staff that their well-being is a priority. 
  • Be an example. Show respectful behavior in your interactions, setting a standard for the team. 
  • Arrange or attend training: Organize and join in workshops that prevent workplace bullying. 
  • Provide clear reporting channels. Ensure there are clear and confidential channels for employees to report any incidents. This can help employees combat bullying without fear of retaliation. 
  • Investigate complaints thoroughly: Investigate reported incidents, ensuring the fair treatment of everyone involved. 


leadership for team

As leaders, you play a pivotal role in shaping the organizational culture. You can also foster a climate of respect. Take proactive steps to address and prevent bullying within your team. Some actions you can take include: 

  • Review policies. Regularly review anti-bullying policies to ensure they're comprehensive and up to date. 
  • Process complaints fairly: Establish a fair and transparent process for handling complaints. Always emphasize a commitment to a safe workplace. 
  • Offer training programs. Include anti-bullying training in the organization's onboarding process and ongoing professional development. 
  • Promote a culture of respect. Emphasize the importance of respect and inclusivity as core values within the organization. 
  • Hold others accountable. Hold individuals accountable for their actions, irrespective of their position within the organization. 
  • Support targets. Offer support to bullied staff, including access to counseling or other resources. 

What to do if you are bullied at work 

Workplace bullying can be emotionally challenging. But you must take decisive steps to address the issue. Here's what you should do if you experience bullying at work: 

  1. Respond immediately: Try to remain calm and avoid responding with aggression. 
  2. Document the incident: Write down a detailed account of the bullying incident. Note the names of any witnesses present during the incident. Their statements can be valuable if you decide to escalate the matter. 
  3. Talk to the bully: Choose the right time and a private and calm setting to express your concerns. Use "I" statements to help you seek resolution.
  4. Contact human resources or management: Prepare documentation to discuss what's happening. Express your concerns and the desire for resolution. 
  5. Make a formal complaint. If the issue continues, follow your company's formal complaint procedures. This might mean writing a formal letter of complaint about workplace bullying. You can then give it to the management or another assigned authority. 
  6. Seek support: Contact a friend, family member, or colleague for emotional support. Discussing the situation with someone you trust can provide a valuable perspective. 
  7. Get professional counseling. If your mental health is suffering, consider seeking professional counseling or therapy.  
  8. Know your rights: Awareness of workplace bullying legislation can empower you. Make sure you have a current copy of your employee handbook. Read and understand your company's policies on bullying and harassment in the workplace. 
  9. Follow up: Follow up with management to ensure they're addressing the issue appropriately. Document any further incidents. 
  10. Consider legal advice. If workplace bullying continues, consult a legal professional to explore your options. In the Philippines, there is no specific law that addresses workplace bullying. But, there are existing labor laws and regulations. These protect against harassment and unfair treatment at work. 

Remember, you aren't alone. Taking steps to address workplace bullying is crucial for your well-being and health. Some companies also have a health and safety representative you can talk to as well. Always stand up for yourself and seek the support and resolution you deserve. 


Workplace bullying is a common issue and comes in many forms. It has far-reaching consequences, impacting staff and the organization. To fight workplace bullying, everyone must be proactive. Employees, managers, and leaders need to work together to create a safe workplace.  

Take a stand against workplace bullying. Your well-being and the health of your workplace depend on it. 


  1. What should I do if I witness workplace bullying? 
    ⁠If you witness workplace bullying, document the incident. Then file a report with management. Encourage the victim to report the bullying behavior as well. Be supportive and make sure the appropriate people are aware of the situation. 
  2. How can I rebuild my confidence and mental well-being after experiencing workplace bullying? 
    ⁠To rebuild your confidence and mental well-being, seek support. You can seek support from friends, family, or a mental health professional. Set boundaries, practice self-care, and focus on your strengths. A counselor or therapist can give you advice on how to cope and feel better about yourself. 
  3. Can workplace bullying occur in remote or virtual work settings? 
    ⁠Yes, workplace bullying can occur in remote or virtual work settings. It may be in the form of cyberbullying, exclusion, or inappropriate communication. Organizations need to establish clear virtual communication guidelines. Addressing any signs of bullying, even in remote work environments, is essential.

More from this category: Working relationships

Top search terms

Want to know what people are searching for on Jobstreet? Explore our top search terms to stay across industry trends.

Subscribe to Career Advice

Get expert career advice delivered to your inbox.
You can cancel emails at any time. By clicking ‘subscribe’ you agree to Jobstreet’s Privacy Statement.