This week, I have to thank @Vroomboo on Twitter whose interesting comparison of school and workplace bullying inspires this week’s blog.
When it involves children, bullying is a more immediate problem. School bullying is a heartbreaking and emotive subject. Therefore it generates more awareness. It causes more concern. And it makes sense. I mean, when we look at workplace bullying - we’re adults, right? We can shoulder more. We’re older and tougher.
But what @Vroomboo correctly points out is that in the workplace, bullying from a co-worker or boss is often denied and even supported by HR and colleagues who, if not actually joining in, will turn a blind eye. Complain too much and in the normal course of events you’ll find yourself at the Job Centre. Then there are the lawyers who may well advise that the best option is to comply with your employer; cut and run with a P45, one month’s wages and a two line reference that says nothing more than you were once employed. Insist on taking the matter to Court and your employer may even, as in my case, deliberately attempt to mislead the Employment Tribunal to conceal firm-wide negligence.
The point is this:
How would society view a situation where a child was bullied at school and, when the bullying was reported, the school denied the fact entirely and expelled the child with a sub-standard report card?
And we can take it a step further:
What if the child’s parents decided to sue the school in question for the child’s injured feelings (depressed and fearful of joining another school) only to have the lawyers say they can’t possibly help because recent law reforms have given schools all the power?
I don’t think I’m reaching to suggest there would be outrage. Parents would unite to restore a fairer balance between parent power and the education system.
It’s a scenario which would never be tolerated in schools in the UK, but it’s the daily story in UK businesses. As adults, we may be more mature and better equipped to deal with the tough world of work, but we’re not invincible.
There should be outrage on the part of the bullied at work. We should be fighting to restore a balance between workers and employers. Sadly, I think only when enough good, hard-working staff have experienced the indignity of being bullied, expelled and given a ‘must try harder’ report card from their former employer will we be in a position to do something about it.
Until then, it’s an education.