Guidance for staff raising concerns

Guidance for staff on raising concerns about bullying or harassment.

If you think you are being bullied or harassed, you may be able to sort out matters informally. This is usually the most effective way to resolve concerns quickly, and to restore good working relationships. Suggestions on how to address bullying and harassment informally are detailed below.

Keep a diary - You should always keep a record of the incidents which are causing you distress. It is important to note the date, time and place of the incident, exactly what was said or done, the context in which it was said or done, how it made you feel and the action you took (if any). You should also note the names of any witnesses who were present and retain any related documents. This information will be relevant if you decide to make a formal complaint at a later stage.

At this point you may wish to seek help and talk through the issue with a Dignity & Respect Advisor or your HR Advisor who will explore options with you and respect any decision you come to.

Talk to the person directly - The person may not know that their behaviour in some circumstances is unacceptable to others and, if this is clearly pointed out to them, the problem may be resolved quickly and simply. If you feel able to approach the person yourself, this should be done as soon as possible so that they can ensure the behaviour is not repeated in the future. If you decide to write to the individual instead, you should be prepared for a possible request to meet to discuss the content of the email/letter.

Consider the following strategies for preparing for the discussion and expressing yourself clearly and effectively:

  • Identify the behaviour that you find offensive and unwelcome, how it has made you feel, and what you believe is needed to resolve the problem. 
  • When describing your feelings, try to use 'I' statements instead of blaming the other person (e.g. 'I feel hurt', rather than 'You hurt me'). This helps to avoid defensiveness on the part of the person you are speaking to.
  • Relate your statement about your feelings to some specific behaviour in the other person (e.g. 'I felt hurt when you said I had not completed the project on time without giving me the opportunity to explain the reason it was behind schedule'. This is clearer to the person you are speaking to than 'I felt hurt because you humiliated me').
  • Express your request as simply as you can, perhaps in two or three easy-to-understand sentences. Complicated explanations can mean that the person you are speaking to may not understand what you are trying to tell him/her.
  • Avoid sarcasm, character assassination or absolutes (absolutes often involve using words like ‘You never…’ or ‘You always…’).
  • Avoid labelling the individual (such as calling the person ‘a bully’).
  • Evaluate your expectations. Are they reasonable? Are you willing to compromise, if appropriate, in order to reach a resolution with the other person?

Raise the matter with your line manager – If you feel unable to approach the individual directly, you can raise the matter with your line manager or, where necessary, a more senior manager who could take appropriate steps to resolve the matter informally.  Consider the guidance above in preparing for this discussion.

You can also talk to your local HR Advisor or to a Dignity & Respect Advisor.

At all times you should observe confidentiality and you can expect all other parties involved to do the same.

Raise a formal complaint - If your concerns are not - or cannot be - resolved by informal means, then you may wish to submit a formal complaint as set out in the Dignity & Respect policy.

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