There is strong agreement that the public should be made aware of bullying in the government, but is this really the
right way to go about it?
What was potentially a serious case of bullying is now a political
media scandal. Have we lost sight of what is really important here,
which is helping individuals subjected to bulling in the workplace?
Helping employees means supporting and offering possible resolutions.
This is the intended goal of the National
Bullying Helpline; however this was obviously not the result of
their ‘support’. Perhaps Christine Pratt had the 3 or 4 individuals’
best interests at heart, believing that if she made the situation public
then the alleged bullying would have to be addressed. Unfortunately it
would seem that the situation is now being used as a malicious tool to
reduce Labour’s favour so close to the general election.
a situation like this be appropriately handled? First, support lines
and organisations must ensure that when they state 100% confidentiality
they mean it. Employees will not realistically be able to use these
facilities (whether in-house or external) if they don’t feel secure.
However, if these support facilities are obliged to inform the company
when a certain number of complaints are made about them, this should be
known to all parties involved in the relationship. And of course when
taking complaints further there is a right way to do this and a wrong
way. Do not go to the press! Instead seek to hold a meeting with an
appropriate member of the organisation, presumably a senior HR manager
It is difficult to tell what exactly happened in
the Downing Street bullying scandal due to the sheer number of
conflicting reports. Gus O’Donnell has stated that he “has never raised
concerns with the prime minister about him acting in a bullying or
intimidatory manner”. Nonetheless what one person might perceive as
intimidating, another person might not. And that’s the rub.
Unfortunately the experience of bullying is very subjective. Whether the
perceptions of these 3-4 individuals are in fact well-founded, remains
to be seen. To discover this, one would hope the complaints could be
taken through the right channels including a formal grievance and investigation.
The point here is to not
lose sight of what this is all about. The purpose of highlighting
workplace bullying is to resolve it, not to use it as media or political