Mobbing or Bullying at Workplace: How to Spot It and Solve It

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Maintaining a sense of equilibrium in the workplace is essential. Employees should feel safe, and companies have a duty of care to provide a healthy and supportive atmosphere to facilitate that.

This article will discuss the signs of workplace mobbing and bullying, along with strategies employers may apply to deal with the situation and keep it from happening. Understanding the origins and consequences of these problems will enable you to respond appropriately and establish a more harmonious and inclusive dynamic.

What are the differences between mobbing and workplace bullying?

To understand ways to address these issues, we must first examine bullying and mobbing individually to recognise their differences.

Workplace bullying is typically one individual against another; abuse can come from a colleague or a more senior member of staff. It should also be noted that bullying is not always obvious and can be overlooked by senior management. Abuse consists of intimidating the victim, withholding credit, invalidating their work standards and setting them up for failure. There are several adverse physical and psychological health problems related to workplace bullying, including burnout, PTSD and a desire to leave the company.

In contrast, workplace mobbing occurs when a pack of employees single out an individual. The victim is subjected to aggressive, vindictive behaviour and psychological harassment. Being subjected to constant verbal abuse and purposefully marooned by other colleagues, mobbing can lead to a significant decrease in job and life satisfaction.

If left untreated, these forms of toxicity can spiral out of control, resulting in devastating consequences, reducing morale, productivity, and overall health of the team. In severe cases, employees can commit suicide after experiencing bullying or mobbing.

Recognising the Signs of Mobbing and Bullying

Workplace mobbing and bullying may sometimes be subtle enough that senior management fails to recognise the behaviour. However, there are clear indicators and signs to watch out for. You can create a vigilant environment by cultivating awareness amongst leadership and team members.

Things to look out for:

  • Unexplained absences: Is the employee taking too many successive sick days?
  • Work Performance: Has there been a sudden decline in the employee’s work quality?
  • Symptoms of Anxiety & Depression: Does the employee seem startled, on edge or withdrawn?
  • Isolation: Does the employee often sit alone or refuse to socialise with colleagues?\

What’s the difference between normal workplace conflict and bullying/mobbing?

As we already discussed, workplace bullying is one-sided, often with one person targeting another, whereas workplace mobbing is a party of people against one individual. Conflict is usually a two-way street, with both sides having equal footing in the power dynamic.

The Role of Leadership in Addressing Mobbing and Bullying

It would be invaluable to ensure that senior team members specialise in recognising the signs of workplace bullying/mobbing. By being aware of all signs, from subtle to extreme, they could serve an organisation and its employees by creating a safer environment.

Leadership tips:

  • Establish and enforce clear policies against harmful behaviours within the workplace.
  • Be approachable–aim to be open-minded and willing to have open dialogues.
  • Take complaints seriously. Investigate and take action if necessary.
  • Lead by example and encourage your team to adopt positive attributes.

Good leadership is foundational. Strong leaders who can connect with team members, facilitate an inclusive environment and aren’t afraid to reprimand employees for harmful behaviours are vital to a healthier workplace.

Creating a Clear Anti-Bullying Policy

Anti-bullying and harassment policies can help improve a workplace by clearly formalising guidelines and procedures developed to address bullying. These policies act as a framework, promoting respectful and nondiscriminatory behaviour and establishing consequences for perpetrators.

To be an effective mechanism, an anti-bullying policy needs to include 5 key components:

  • Definitions: What are bullying and mobbing? Provide a clear and detailed definition that can be understood by all employees.
  • Examples: Include scenarios and examples to illustrate the various forms bullying and mobbing can take, such as verbal abuse, isolation, or physical altercations.
  • Reporting: Outline reporting options, such as who to approach. Ensure employees know that their confidentiality will be respected and that they will face no barriers or retaliation when reporting an incident.
  • Investigating: The policy should outline a thorough investigative process that is both fair and timely. It should detail how incidents will be investigated.
  • Consequences: Potential consequences must be clearly stated to combat bullying in the workplace. These may include disciplinary action, training, or counselling. Additionally, your anti-bullying policy should provide a way to aid the victims of workplace bullying through specialised support programmes.

By providing anti-bullying training, enforcing policies and implementing HR interventions, an employer can take the necessary steps to mitigate harmful behaviours within the workplace.

Encouraging Open Communication and Reporting

Promoting a positive workplace culture is key to establishing a professional environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their concerns and experiences.

Employers should emphasise celebrating diversity and offering open, transparent communication within a mutually respectful and inclusive environment. Strategies to cultivate employer-employee relationships could include anti-bullying training, mental health awareness days, and cultural workshops.

Providing information regarding anonymous reporting lines and the promise of confidentiality makes it possible to create a trusting ecosystem within the workplace. Employees are less likely to report an incident if they fear retaliation from the perpetrator.

Keep communication lines open and trustworthy to foster.

wellness at work

Investigating and Addressing Complaints

Investigating a claim of bullying or mobbing at work may be necessary. Depending on the details of the allegation, it may be necessary to determine what happened and whether disciplinary action is needed formally.

Assumptions must not be made before examining evidence during the investigation process. To enforce fairness, the person(s) conducting the investigation should always remain objective and impartial.

The steps below will help frame a reported case, allowing the investigator/employer to determine the correct outcome.

1. Correspond with relevant parties:

Interviewees must be seen separately, and records of each interview must be documented.

2. Investigate the facts:

Obtain secondhand facts or any other relevant information to provide the investigator with a clearer understanding; this may include gathering information from eyewitnesses, online content or CCTV footage.

3. Work on the allegations:

Send the accused a copy of the allegations in writing, detailing potential outcomes should the allegations be truthful. Depending on the seriousness of the allegations, the accused may be suspended from their duties.

4. Make a decision:

If an allegation is found not to be workplace bullying, no further action should be taken against the accused. However, suppose there has been a breach in the employer’s anti-bullying policy. In that case, possible outcomes may include:

  • Requiring an apology
  • Retraining and counselling
  • Taking disciplinary action befitting the beach in policy—warning, demotion, or termination of employment

5. False allegations:

If evidence suggests the allegations were false, the accuser may be found guilty of intentionally spreading malicious misinformation. Depending on their policy, an employer could refer to disciplinary actions involving the termination of the accuser’s employment without notice.

Actions taken must always be exercised reasonably and proportionately when dealing with workplace bullying and mobbing, whether suspected or witnessed. Ensuring the employer provides the victim with the right resources and tools to rehabilitate their recovery is also vital.

Providing Support for Victims and Perpetrators

A strong support network is essential to successfully dealing with workplace bullying. Counselling and peer support groups are two options that victims should have access to in order to help them deal with the psychological and emotional effects.

It is equally essential to address the destructive conduct of bullies by providing them with anti-bullying coaching and training, with an emphasis on improving their interpersonal skills and assisting them in realising the consequences of their actions.

Establishing a route to reconciliation and resolution wherever possible promotes a more positive work atmosphere and prevents further incidents.

Prevent Future Incidents

To guarantee a bully-free workplace, leaders and staff must implement continual training and education programmes. The primary objectives of these efforts need to be to identify and stop bullying behaviours and promote an inclusive and respectful environment.

Encouraging team-building exercises and frequent check-ins can reinforce constructive relationships and safeguard against isolation. Continuously monitoring and reviewing the working environment is also important to maintain a supportive and safe workplace.


In conclusion, combating bullying in the workplace requires a thorough strategy that involves identifying the warning signs of bullying, helping both those affected and those responsible, and implementing preventative measures.

Recognising and dealing with bullying is vital to reinforcing a positive workplace where everyone is respected and valued. By adopting proactive measures, businesses may foster a courteous and encouraging work environment that enhances productivity and well-being.

At Caldeira Consulting, we’re dedicated to assisting businesses in creating positive work environments where employees can flourish without feeling marginalised or mistreated. We offer a comprehensive Well-Being At Work programme to help tackle stress-related issues, including mobbing and bullying in the workplace. Schedule a consultation and start creating a workplace you can be proud of.