Health & Wellness Insights

R U OK? DAY: Workplace Wellbeing, 3 Risk Factors To Watch Out For

September 9, 2020

Words by The Channy

With the challenges currently present in our world stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, it is more important than ever that we, as a society, shed light upon the mental health struggles within the world and band together to dismantle the stigma associated with these issues. For R U OK? Day this year, we speak to The Channy – a mental health organisation that works to encourage acceptance, raise awareness and educate individuals about mental health. They share the three major risks factors for bullying in the workplace and provide strategies and recommendations on how you can overcome these challenges to help you be, and feel, your best.

Her Economy is a platform that focuses on female career empowerment and allowed me to think deeply about the mental health issues that occur day-to-day in offices around the world.

But how is it possible to be empowered if the person is losing power?

Feijó, Gräf, Pearce and Fassa published a well-written paper in May last year; not only did they review findings of multiple research studies, but they also went through careful scientific procedures to make sure they weren’t using findings of the ‘really old days’ where there were not many women working.

They reviewed 51 papers and the main risk factors that contribute to being bullied in the workplace include:

  1. Women

Not saying men do not get bullied at all in the workplace, but women have higher chances of it.

For example, women tend to be the caregiver of the family, and therefore a lot of time is divided from work to comfort the newborns, for cooking and packing meals, etc.

“…in a job requiring a flexible schedule, people with children could be the main targets”.

Of course, none of us were given the option to be born as a male or female ever since the delivery stork dropped us on our parents’ doorstep; but with the understanding that there is a higher chance of workplace bullying with females, we can implement strategies to overcome this.

This could include planning the time where you are financially stable enough to have a baby, planning baby duties with your significant other or hiring a nanny. This sort of planning will help with managing your time more efficiently for work, along with shutting down those colleagues who doubt your capabilities of working effectively while raising a baby.

  1. Authoritarian and laissez-faire leadership styles

“Authoritarian and laissez-faire leadership styles were positively associated with bullying”.

Here, we have two extreme leadership styles where “passive laissez-faire leadership, evaluated by three articles, increased up to 4.3 times the risk of workplace bullying. Destructive, dictatorial, and autocratic leadership were also related to a higher occurrence of bullying”.

Does your boss, manager, or supervisor operate in this way? If yes, would you be able to change anything? For example, by giving feedback, reporting the issue to the HR, or having a face-to-face conversation with them about it? If you have tried your ways to change this and it still doesn’t work, don’t waste any more of your time in a toxic environment. Weigh the pros and cons, set yourself a time limit to see a progression. If nothing changes, it’s time to bounce!

“Supportive leadership style, consideration of individuals by leaders, transformational and transactional leadership, authentic leadership, and fair leadership reduced up to 70% the risk of bullying”.

  1. Neuroticism

“Neuroticism was identified as a risk factor for bullying …”

People who possess the trait neuroticism are usually prone to feeling strong or negative emotions such as anger, anxiety, and antsy; they get sensitive in a lot of situations.

“In a cluster of participants of one study, people with Type A personalities – less extroverted, less agreeable, less conscientious, less open to experience and more emotionally unstable – were also more likely to be bullied”

However, personality is a spectrum and it does not define who you are for every situation. You are ultimately in control and hold the key to how you manifest this trait to your advantage.

For example, I am an introvert myself, but I do love talking to people, have a talking-heavy career, and have strong FOMO feeling if I go back home at 7 pm on a Friday night! Being an introvert does not mean I am not competent to do these things, it is just that I need a long rest to recharge myself compared to the extroverts when they are doing these sorts of activities.

“Nevertheless, another study showed that personality characteristics explained only 2% of the variance (adjusted R2 = 0.02) of bullying”

Being professional is where you can set aside your personal life and do the best you can to get the job done. There are also other risk factors that contribute to workplace bullying, including not having a clear understanding of what your role and duties are, conflicts with your colleagues, having adverse physical and mental health. Understand that these are risk factors, but they do not determine your fate in the workplace.

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