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Workplace Bullying: Who’s Behind It?

Mohamad Danial bin Ab Khalil
by Mohamad Danial bin Ab Khalil
Aug 04, 2022 at 12:51 PM

The Malaysian Institute of Human Resources (MIHR) states that managers, particularly younger ones, are the major offenders of workplace bullying.


Workplace bullying: who are the perpetrators?

According to its president, Simon Benjamin, these perpetrators include younger women who have risen fast up the professional ladder.

He told FMT Business that in some instances, they might even harass more senior male or female coworkers.

Simon said that the most common type of bullying is verbal. Nonverbal acts such as ignoring a junior employee and cyberbullying are still prevalent in the manufacturing and service industries.

He claimed that these are the areas where supervisors would "push the button" of their workers.

He stated that workplace bullying is a type of harassment that organisations must handle properly and seriously. He added that in many cases, the victims are either unclear of what to do or, worse, are unaware that they are being bullied.


The effects of workplace bullying 

According to Simon, as more women enter the job and younger individuals take on management jobs, a majority of the younger professionals have become perpetrators, while their elder colleagues have become victims.

According to a recent study, if workplace bullying is not reported or is disregarded, the victim may become suicidal. The study also found that participants who saw workplace bullying were generally demoralised.

Simon, who said to have witnessed a young CEO scolding an employee, stated that these young CEOs "simply lack life experiences."

While verbal abuse is not illegal under Malaysian law, threats to cause physical harm or property damage are.


Solving workplace bullying

He believes hiring a former CEO with extensive expertise to coach a freshly appointed CEO is the optimum solution. This will enable them to develop into better leaders.

MIHR has launched a programme to help victims of workplace bullying receive counselling. Its 4,000 members have taken psychology and counselling courses and can counsel the victims.

He stated that most people seeking help from MIHR are CEOs instead of executives and managers. Employees can help each other by having a "buddy" who can also act as a whistleblower if one of them is victimised.

Simon advised that if necessary, the victim should address their grievance in writing to the CEO or the human resources department. He added that victims could also seek assistance from the human resources ministry.

A formal complaint will result in an investigation, which can be conducted under the Employment Act of 1955, the Industrial Relations Act of 1967, or the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1994.

The victim may also file a civil action suit against the perpetrator(s) by submitting a police report. It will be investigated under Section 358 of the Penal Code, which provides for a jail term of up to a month, a fine of up to RM400, or both.