"Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week" will be held October 20-26, 2013. The annual event was founded by the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) as a way to raise awareness about this type of workplace harassment. Nationwide, healthy workplace advocates will be spreading the word on what workplace bullying is and how to combat it.
Workplace Bullying is defined as systematic abuse perpetrated by one or more individuals against workers for the purpose of driving the targeted worker or workers out of their job. The abuse is typically non-physical; instead bullies engage in rumor, gossip, verbal threats and project sabotage as weapons against the target. Bullying can be harmful to the targeted workers' health due to the inordinate amount of stress caused by bullies. This stress can cause workers to suffer from symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder, depression, cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disorders and sleep difficulties.
Ways that individuals and businesses can participate in "Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week" include:
- Advocates can encourage city officials to recognize the event. They can contact community leaders to ask them to issue a proclamation to honor Freedom Week.
- Community leaders should be encouraged to learn about and endorse the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill (HWB). This bill holds employers accountable for bullying and preventing toxic working environments. People who want more direct involvement with the HWB can become citizen lobbyists by applying here.
- People can purchase and wear t-shirts and other items that call attention to the workplace bullying issue. Items can be purchased at the here or individuals can make their own materials to honor the event.
- Concerned citizens can write letters to the editors of newspapers, television stations, and legislators. These letters can consist of educational information about the workplace bullying issue, Freedom Week and/or support for the HWB.
Coworkers who recognize that an other employee is being targeted can provide support and encouragement. Targeted people need to know that they are not alone. One of the worst weapons that bullies use is social ostracism to isolate targets from their coworkers, making it easier to abuse the person with impunity.
Employers can be proactive by implementing a policy that prohibits all forms of maltreatment against employees. Not only should a policy be developed, but each member of the company should be held accountable for any violations of the policy.