Bullying in the workplace

Name calling, humiliation, ridiculing and the silent treatment all sound like playground bullying, but for some Kiwis being bullied at work is also a reality.

According to WorkSafe New Zealand, workplace bullying is repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that can lead to physical and psychological harm.

Bullying is more than verbal or physical abuse, it also includes more subtle types of abuse such as being given unachievable workloads or deadlines, being excluded, or being made to feel as though you’ve been set up to fail.

Workplace bullying can happen to anyone and the offending person may be a colleague, manager, customer or client.

You have the right to be in a safe workplace free from violence, harassment and bullying. If you think you’re being bullied at work, here’s our top tips to make sure you have the right support.

1. Write it down

Every time you feel bullied, write down what happened, what was said, the time and date of the incident, any witnesses and any other information that may help if you need to make a complaint.

2. Get support

If you are being bullied it's important that you know there are things you can do and people who can help. Start by talking with a trusted work colleague, family member or friend about what’s happening at work. They may be able to help you get a ‘sense check’ that what you are experiencing is unreasonable behaviour.

3. Approach the other party

If you feel confident doing so, you can try approaching the person who is bullying you and letting them that their behaviour is unwanted and unacceptable. If you are unsure how to approach them seek advice from a friend, colleague or manager.

4. Get help

If you’re not comfortable talking directly with the person doing the bullying, there are many people and organisations who can help. You could talk with your manager, health and safety representative, your human resources (HR) department or your union representative. Other organisations such as an employee assistance programme or a citizens advice bureau can also offer advice and assistance.

5. Submit a formal complaint

Businesses have an obligation to take all complaints seriously. Find out what your organisation’s procedures are concerning bullying – these can ensure you follow the correct procedure when you make a complaint and tell you what to expect once your complaint has been receive.

6. Focus on yourself

Bullying can take a toll on your wellbeing, so it’s important to remember that it’s often a way for people to assert their authority or feel better themselves if they are not happy. Make sure you have someone to talk to and, if you need help coping, see your doctor.


  1. Bullying prevention toolbox WorkSafe New Zealand.
  2. Workplace bullying Australian Human Rights Commision