The 7 Dark Sides of Work

Bullying and harassment

Bullying often starts out as a misunderstanding, poor people skills, lack of communication, or minor conflict that is not dealt with immediately. It can quickly escalate into disrespect, micromanagement, aggression and isolation. 

Targets and witnesses often go into shock when confronted with this behaviour and either fight/flight or freeze. When we’re in this state, our brains and bodies don’t work properly.

Some people know when they’re bullying, some dismiss their actions and others are oblivious to the way their behaviours impact others. It’s important to be self aware and consider if our actions could be bullying.


Workplace bullying is repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety.

Reasonable management action conducted in a reasonable manner is not bullying. This includes asking someone to do specific tasks (even if they don’t want to), performance reviews and performance management. 

Bullying behaviours can include:

  • aggressive and intimidating conduct
  • belittling or humiliating comments
  • victimisation or victim-blaming
  • shouting, coercion, threats, mocking or sarcasm
  • spreading malicious rumours
  • practical jokes, pranks or initiation
  • isolation or exclusion from work-related events
  • discrimination and harassment
  • physical, verbal or emotional abuse
  • disrespect, singling-out or ganging up
  • unreasonable work expectations or timeframes.
Man yelling at woman

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favours or conduct of a sexual nature which makes the person harassed feel offended, humiliated or intimidated.

Unlike bullying, sexual harassment can be a single act and It doesn’t have to be directed at someone. Sexual harassment includes behaviour that makes the environment you are working in uncomfortable or threatening in a sexually hostile way, such as sexually offensive pictures or a culture of suggestive comments or jokes.

I detail behaviours that are sexual harassment in this NEON light.

Impacts of bullying and harassment

Bullying and sexual harassment have a negative impact on the workplace culture, productivity of the business and health of people who witness or experience it. It can lead to:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • sleep disturbances
  • physical illness
  • stress related physical complaints and muscle tension
  • people dreading coming to work
  • negative impacts on a person’s job, career and financial security and
  • a loss of confidence, withdrawal and suicidal thoughts.

The detrimental impacts of workplace sexual harassment extend beyond individuals to include witnesses, families and friends.

Bullying and sexual harassment costs Australian employers through:

  • lost productivity 
  • staff turnover and sick leave
  • negative impact on workplace culture
  • resources associated with responding to complaints, litigation and workers’ compensation
  • reputational damage.
How much is it costing your organisation?

How to eliminate bullying and harassment at work

Why doesn’t it stop? I’ve found people don’t know HOW to stop it. Employers, managers, HR, witnesses, targets – if anyone knew how to stop it, it would stop. 

This is where I can help. 

Coming soon – NEON Solutions and NEON Pathways

Subscribe to NEON News to be the first to know when they launch!

NEON Solutions for employers, managers and HR teams

What you need to be doing to meet your obligations, manage the risks, protect your organisation and workers and eliminate bullying and harassment at work

Pathways for targets and witnesses

Coming soon is a package for people who may be the target, victim or witness of bullying and harassment at work

In this webinar you will learn strategies and tools to know what you can do if you witness or experience sexual harassment at work.

I also provide information for employers and managers to help you understand your obligations, manage the risk, protect your organisation and workers, and eliminate it from your workplace. 

This training is tailored for Legal professionals and it provides 1.5 CLE towards the 10 required prior to 31 March 2022.

I also share a number of free videos and podcasts on various topics across ethics and professional responsibility, practice management and business skills, and professional skills for another 8 CPD units to help meet your requirements for the year.

Get access today