Being bullied at work? Find out where to get help.

Bullying at work is a form of brutal psychological intimidation, a subtle, hidden and repetitive process, typified by small events which makes its impact through the gradual build up of the effects of persistent repetition. It can take many forms and can deeply affect your health, relationships, and confidence. If you are being bullied at work, where can you get help? The Andrea Adams Trust - the first worldwide charity formed to combat the issues that surrounded workplace bullying - offers their advice.

By Lyn Witheridge, CEO, Andrea Adams Trust

The Andrea Adams Trust states that before you decide to take action through official channels, it is worth considering an informal approach. Bullying at work usually affects several members of staff at any one time. The more people experiencing the same type of conduct, the less likely any complaint will be thought of as a personality clash on your part. So, check to see if any of your colleagues are experiencing the same treatment as you.

Initial tactics recommended to deflect the bully are broadly to:

Stand firm
Remain confident
Keep calm
Keep detailed records

By keeping detailed records of every verbal or other attack will provide sound evidence to confront the bully with at a later stage. The need for proof is essential.

If you feel you are being bullied at work you should not suffer in silence but should seek immediate advice from your Union or HR/health and safety officers. Those who are prime targets often feel ashamed to talk about it with colleagues because they feel their professional credibility is being called into question. Be strong, it is not your fault.

Do not become isolated, seek support and remember you also have a position of power because your ability or popularity threatens the bully – that is why you are a target.

Bullying is a severe offence which must be taken seriously by all employers. Your complaints must be believed and dealt with swiftly and sensitively. All too often however, this is not the case.

Things to remember to do
  • Find out if your employer has any policies on bullying and harassment.
  • Know your job description so that you can check whether the responsibilities you are given match it.
  • Keep a record of all incidents which cause you distress, log dates and details and write down your feelings after each occurrence.
  • Keep copies of all annual appraisals and correspondence relating to your ability to do the job.
  • Try to get witnesses to all bullying incidents – try to avoid being alone with the bully.
  • Talk to colleagues and see if they will support you.
  • If the bully has made any despairing claims against you then send a memo refuting them. Any reply will add to your evidence, as will a refusal to respond.
  • Take all your evidence to a trade union, welfare officer, equal opportunities, health & safety, occupational health advises or HR officers. Keep your complaint as objective as possible so that you can’t be accused of filing the complaint out of malice or ambition.
  • Stand calm and firm and do not allow yourself to be a target but do nor take action alone if you are afraid of losing control.
  • Sick leave need not be a sign of weakness; it can be a strategy to take time over your decisions about what to do next.
  • Make sure you keep all those you have asked for help informed on all developments.
  • Follow the company grievance procedures with the help and support of your union or HR officers.
  • If you do decide to resign, let your company know that you are leaving because you have been bullied. It may help others in the future.
  • If you wish to pursue a legal claim against your employer for constructive dismissal or a personal injury claim, seek advice from your union in the first instance, for if you have a well founded case they will take it up on your behalf.
  • Talk to your friends and family for emotional support. Find out from your GP if counselling is available for you and make an appointment.

Remember that you are the most important person in all of this and to look after yourself is of paramount importance.

A 10 Point Survival Guide
  1. Make an appointment with your doctor and tell them what is happening at work
  2. Follow medical instructions and get signed off if necessary
  3. If counselling is available at work make an early appointment to talk through your experience
  4. If no workplace counselling is available then check with your doctor to see if there is a local counselling service
  5. make a conscious effort to eat a well balanced diet
  6. Learn to relax
  7. Maintain contact with friends outside work. You will need a good listener
  8. Give yourself treats and keep your sense of humour
  9. Make time to do things you enjoy outside work.
  10. Get in touch with the Andrea Adams Trust or a similar organisation who can advise and support you.

Lyn Witheridge is the founder and Chief Executive of The Andrea Adams Trust, the first worldwide charity formed to combat the issues that surrounded workplace bullying. Lyn had been firm friends with journalist Andrea Adams who was the first person to comprehensively highlight the issue of workplace bullying in the UK. Before Andrea’s tragic death from cancer in 1995, she asked Lyn to pick up the baton she was about to drop and continue her work in raising awareness of the subject.

The Trust works to reduce the incidences of workplace bullying by raising awareness of the problem through training, development and research. The Trust also operates a national helpline to provide support to anyone who needs it.

For more information and to download a free fact sheet visit:

National Ban Bullying at Work Day 7th November:

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