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Bullying behaviours – tips to stop toxic cultures developing

Research shows that despite the continued move to remote working, bullying allegations are rising.  Is it a signal that leaders aren’t trained to be alert in spotting and managing bullying behaviours remotely?

We look at the evidence and offer 8 tips to help stop toxic work cultures developing through remote and hybrid working.

At first glance, we might assume that the recent rise in remote working would have resulted in a reduction in cases of bullying at work.  Yet, recent analysis by two employment law firms suggests that the increased use of apps, online messaging and meetings may be resulting in a rise in the occurrence of bullying and incivility at work.

Research released over the summer by the employment and partnership law specialists, Fox and Partners, revealed that the number of employment tribunals lodged which cite allegations of bullying has increased to a record high from 581 (March 20/21) to 835 (March 21/22) – a rise of 44%.  The firm has suggested it may be a strong indication that leadership teams are not successfully addressing an escalation in toxic work cultures.

In a separate piece of research by specialist employment law firm GQ Littler, the number of employment tribunal claims relating to workplace ‘banter’ increased from 67 in 2020 to 97 in 2021 – a 45% increase.  The firm say that ‘banter’ is being increasingly used as “justification for alleged discrimination and harassment”.

Sadly, both sets of statistics make worrying reading.  Allegations of bullying, harassment and incivility at work are detrimental in so many ways for everyone involved, both personally and to an organisation's culture and reputation.  We have created the following infographic with the aim that it may create awareness, start a conversation, and instigate actions to stop toxic work cultures from developing through remote working.


An infographic listing 8 tips to stop toxic work culture developing through remote working


Some recent reviews from our training on tackling bullying in the workplace:

After a half-day Bullying in the Workplace: Training for Managers course,
“The training boosted my knowledge, taught me new management techniques and made a persuasive case as to why this matters.”

From a virtual Bullying in the Workplace: Training for Managers course,
“The realisation that anyone can be subjected to bullying, and anyone can offend others with their own behaviours without this knowledge.  A great course to create positive change.”

Following a 90minute session entitled ‘Bullying & Harassment - What you need to know’,
“A very useful and informative session. it should be a mandatory course for all staff including managers, directors and those in charge of policies.”


Some further reading from our blog relating to tackling harassment and bullying at work:


Infographic transcription

Bullying Behaviours - 8 tips to stop toxic cultures developing through remote working.

Leaders be aware - are leadership teams alert to problematic behaviours which may not be obvious in remote or hybrid working environments?

Spotting behaviours online - look out for sharp remarks in video meetings, a colleague being excluded from calls, the use of messaging apps to chat while others are presenting or talking.

Bullying can be invisible - behaviours such as blocking paths to promotion and being set up to fail may not be obvious but can be present in toxic work cultures.

Encourage inclusion - create a culture where colleagues are listened to, not embarrassed, can speak up, share concerns and admit mistakes without recrimination.

Psychological safety - leaders should ensure both confidentiality and clear paths of 2-way communication so that ideas and opinions can be freely aired, as well as politely challenged.

Be proactive - train senior staff in providing feedback especially if now being offered online, provide guides that can be referred to.

Training to improve working culture - bullying at work awareness training can help to protect and support colleagues and reinforce the importance of having and using workplace policies.

Address workplace concerns - if concerns are detected ensure support is available and offered immediately e.g. coaching, mentoring and wellbeing programmes.


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