We were recently given a copy of an article on bullying, distributed to staff in a TSB building by TSB management. It’s unclear who the author of the article was, or where the content originated from, but it began as follows:

“This article aims to help you to understand the tactics and effects of the workplace bully. You will also gain an insight into why someone is a bully and positive guidelines on what to do if you are being bullied”

Further on in the article it said:

“Suggestions of what to do at work

Resignation – If you cannot stand the bullying any longer and have explored every avenue to end it, the best decision may be to resign. If you do take this course, make your reasons for leaving clear to your employer, in writing. Try to see the resignation not as a failure but as something positive you have done to resolve the situation and make a fresh start”

Why should someone who is being bullied at work have to leave their employment to escape the bullying? That’s clearly wholly inappropriate advice. Unsurprisingly, it provoked something of a backlash from staff and the article was swiftly withdrawn.

The problem was not only the fact that the advice was superficial, unhelpful and misleading, but that local TSB management thought it appropriate to distribute such perverse information to staff in the first place.

Circulating it may have been well intentioned, but one can’t help but draw the conclusion that either the sender hadn’t read the article carefully enough, treating its distribution as some sort of box ticking exercise, or there’s an issue with management understanding of how to deal with workplace bullying.

Either way, TSB must provide further training to managers to ensure that workplace bullying and how to deal with it is clearly understood.

The Cases We Deal With

The Union’s Advice Team frequently deals with workplace bullying cases. With TSB’s new focus on driving up productivity and reducing cost, the inevitable high pressure environment that will be created could quite possibly lead to allegations of bullying. In some cases, people allege workplace bullying when actually they have been subject to a more direct style of management, which isn’t bullying even if it can cause friction or just don’t get on with someone else. It’s important to draw a distinction between tiffs between work colleagues and minor personality clashes and full-on bullying or harassment. Both may need sorting out but require different approaches.

However, we’ve also dealt with some truly awful instances of workplace bullying and harassment. In the worst case (not in TSB) the harassed member was driven to a mental breakdown and the harassers were protected by more senior management.

If you think you’re being bullied we want to hear from you. Whatever the circumstances, we provide a confidential environment for members to discuss issues with us. Sometimes, members just need to get things off their chests, but in other instances members need support to raise issues at work. Whatever the situation, we can help.

Our Advice to Members: 

1. Call us as soon as you think there might be a problem so we can advise you at an early stage. Sitting on issues won’t usually make them better; indeed in most cases delay makes them harder to sort out. Sometimes bullying is clear cut, but that’s not always the case and talking to us will help you decide how to deal with the situation you face.

2. If you think you’re being bullied, it’s important to keep a written note of what’s said to you, when it’s said and what witnesses there were to what was said. Keep hold of any written evidence. Bullying allegations are difficult to substantiate if there isn’t evidence to support what’s being alleged.

Our Advice Team are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Remember that we’re entirely independent of the Bank, so anything you say to us is in strict confidence.

Call us on 01234 716029 (select Option 1) or email is at 24hours@tbuonline.co.uk.

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