Tackling the bullies

Like sexual harassment, workplace bullying is unacceptable and employees should know how to recognize the signs and prevent the abuse
By Sarah Dobson
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 03/04/2009

Workplace bullying is not easily recognized because it takes so many forms — from social isolation to excessive criticism — but with a recession in the works, this “interpersonal aggression” could become even more of an issue.

While people may be more reticent to speak out because their jobs are more sacred in an economic downturn, there could be an escalation in aggressive, belittling or threatening behaviour, says Gerry Smith, Toronto-based vice-president of organizational solutions and training at Shepell-fgi.

“I imagine there might be a tendency for management, during these hard times, to become more abusive, saying, ‘Do it or I can find somebody else among the ranks of the unemployed,’” he says.