Bullying At Work

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Bullying At Work
Bullying At Work
Video: Bullying At Work
Video: How I survived workplace bullying | Sherry Benson-Podolchuk | TEDxWinnipeg 2023, February

Bullying at work

Psychological terror in the workplace has had a name since the mid-1990s: bullying. This means the systematic exclusion of people, which is associated with massive consequences for those affected and for the entire working environment.

Bullying can affect anyone. Individuals or a group become the “perpetrator” - the “victim” usually flees (eg is driven to quit) or becomes ill. The danger lies in playing down the bullying phenomenon or making it taboo. Who would like to come out as a "victim"?


  • Continue reading
  • more on the subject
  • Advice, downloads & tools
  • What is bullying?
  • Acts of bullying
  • Periods of bullying
  • I am being bullied - what can I do?
  • What the employer can do

What is bullying?

An argument with the boss? Hate speech from your colleague? What exactly is bullying? Bullying in the workplace is defined as conflict-laden communication (eg "treating someone like air") between colleagues or between managers and employees. The attacked person is inferior (e.g. less well connected, more powerless) and is systematically attacked by one or more other people, often over a longer period of time, with the aim and / or effect of driving the victim from the workplace (e.g. by giving notice or Transfer). Those affected find this stressful and discriminatory - but sometimes they themselves only notice it late. Bullying can create safety and health risks.

Acts of bullying

The psychologist and bullying researcher Heinz Leymann identified different levels of action in bullying. These include attacks on:

  • social relationships (e.g. ignoring the person concerned),
  • Communication options (e.g. constant interruption during a conversation),
  • the professional / life situation (e.g. senseless assignment of tasks),
  • health (e.g. compulsion to work that is harmful to health) and
  • social standing (e.g. spreading rumors).

Periods of bullying

Bullying usually occurs in phases. From unresolved conflict to violence, anything is possible.

  • Phase 1 - Conflict phase: In many cases of bullying, there is initially an unresolved conflict. However, the person concerned can still handle it. The aggression of the bully is subliminal.
  • Phase 2 - Phase of indirect and direct aggression: Mobbing is establishing itself as a systematic process. The victim of bullying is held responsible for the existing situation and devalued. Self-doubts arise on the part of the person concerned. The first physical symptoms appear.
  • Phase 3 - Public phase: The bully carries out other aggressive acts, e.g. ridicule, direct verbal devaluation or even threats of violence. The person concerned is insecure and makes mistakes - is referred to as a "problem worker". People seeking help are often not taken seriously. The picture of the perpetrator is adopted. The psyche of the person concerned is suffering increasingly.
  • Phase 4 - Exclusion phase: Violence and accusations of being mentally ill are just a few examples of the acute problems in this phase. Psychosomatic complaints increase, which usually result in sick leave. Termination, transfer or even exclusion from the world of work are the end of the bullying impasse.

I am being bullied - what can I do?

As a victim of bullying, it is important to set limits. Draw this out clearly. Not sure if you are being bullied? A bullying checklist creates more clarity, a bullying diary helps to ensure traceability. You can find both and further information on the topic on the website of the Chamber of Labor.

Talk about it! Get in touch with a contact person you trust in the company, e.g. manager, personnel management, works council / staff representative or the company doctor. Look for allies who can assist you in the operation. Pay attention to “bullying-free zones” in private! Consciously recharge your batteries with friends and with leisure activities. You can find contact points on the subject of psyche and soul under When the psyche needs help.

Depending on individual needs, it may be necessary to

seek medical or psychotherapeutic help - up to an inpatient stay on a psychosomatic ward. A “break” is also recommended in some cases. However, all measures only help if there are also changes in the workplace situation.

Note Victims of bullying are entitled to emotional compensation if it can be made credible that certain grounds for discrimination exist.

What the employer can do

There is a lot that companies can do to prevent bullying from occurring in the first place. Especially with regard to the corporate culture, a clear NO to bullying or bullying-like behavior can be pronounced. If necessary, concrete measures can be taken. A good conflict culture and shared values ​​promote the working atmosphere as well as appreciation and the right to have a say. Safety, appropriate workload and transparency have a positive effect on well-being at work. Well-founded information from managers, the works council and employees make it easier to both recognize and deal with psychological terror in the workplace. A specific point of contact can provide information and take action. Regular employee appraisals and evaluations of the workplace helpRecognize sources of danger in good time. Occupational medicine, industrial psychology and safety specialists complete the package of measures.

In the event that bullying occurs, rapid action is required. Those affected can - if available - initiate initial steps such as coaching, psychotherapy or mediation (form of professional conflict management) together with company contact persons such as a bullying prevention officer. Supervisors can then also take action and warn “bullies”, submit a disciplinary report or even terminate the contract.

Further information on the subject of bullying can be found in the folder of the Healthy Austria Fund “Mobbing - Guide to Prevention and Intervention. What (public) organizations can do”.

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