Family Lives Responds to BBC Bullying: New Report Reveals 'Strong Undercurrent Of Fear'

“The BBC’s Respect At Work review which highlights that more than two thirds of BBC staff have witnessed workplace bullying reinforces the findings of a recent Family Lives’ report ‘From Family Life to Family Strife?’ which found that workplace bullying is not confined to the work sphere, but can have a significant ‘ripple-effect’ on family members, including children and grandparents.  Over four fifths of our survey respondents stated that workplace bullying had affected family life or close relationships.  Respondents to Family Lives’ data stated that workplace bullying created high levels of stress that was felt inside the workplace and also at home.  This stress manifested itself in feelings of being withdrawn, unable to wind down, hopelessness, anger, depression, and in extreme cases led to panic attacks and having suicidal thoughts.  Bullying in the workplace can be a very devastating, distressing and isolating experience. It can leave recipients feeling very low and anxious at the thought of going to work and facing the individual or group that may be subjecting them to this.  Family Lives and BullyingUK has heard from victims who describe being constantly criticised, having duties and responsibility taken away without good reason, being shouted at and put down or made to feel like the butt of the jokes, being constantly ignored, receiving threats about job security without any basis or substance and having promotion or progress blocked within the workplace. Unfortunately, bullying can take its toll on the whole families’ health and wellbeing.  Family members that feel under duress should contact Family Lives’ support team either via Email or LiveOnline Chat.  Our service is free & confidential. We are here to support the whole family and we can also refer callers to organisations that specialise in resolving workplace bullying.”

Jeremy Todd, Family Lives Chief Executive

Family Lives’ Key Tips for Employers Who Wish To Tackle Bullying In The Workplace

  • Like any workplace issue, fostering a culture that is free of bullying needs to come from the top down. Always be proactive; firstly you need to have a bullying and harassment policy in place, making it clear that this type of behaviour is considered a gross misconduct and those found guilty will be dismissed. 
  • The policy must not be a ‘tick box exercise’ but a real commitment to building a working environment that values all of the team. 
  • Words alone won't change a thing, so the next step is to train managers so they understand what constitutes bullying and harassing behaviour. Perhaps this is a good opportunity to reflect on their management style as well as build awareness of discrimination characteristics which are often the precursor for ridicule. 
  • Bullying and harassment may be verbal, non-verbal, written or physical. It is therefore important that examples are laid out in a policy so that all staff are aware of their own behaviour and can take responsibility for it.
  • While employers should encourage employees who believe they are being harassed or bullied to notify the offender that their behaviour is unwelcome (by words or by conduct), it is worth recognising that this is not always possible. 
  • It is important to make clear to employees that all allegations of harassment or bullying will be taken seriously, confidentially and that grievances or complaints of harassment will not be ignored or treated lightly. 
  • Communicate the procedure to employees so they understand how to make a formal grievance, who the employee needs to speak to (normally their manager) and what will happen after the incident has been reported.


Family Lives’ Key Tips for Employees Who Wish To Tackle Bullying In The Workplace

  • All employees need to commit to any company or organisations’ zero tolerance policy, be honest about their own behaviour, be prepared to report transgressions and actively support those that are bullied, rather than hide behind a wall of silence and look the other way when abuses take place. 
  • If ever we needed a policy of ‘stand up and be counted’ it is to combat bullying. 
  • For those who are targeted by bullies, the worst feeling is that of helplessness. You can take control again. 
  • Firstly confide in someone you trust. Then keep a diary logging each and every incident that makes you feel belittled or afraid. 
  • Note down the names of people who witnessed this. Hearsay evidence is not relevant, so this detail is really important. 
  • Log what occurred but also how it made you feel. The writing of a diary is quite a cathartic experience in itself and empowers the employee by understanding that it is not them that has the problem, but the bully. 


Parents, adult carers and family members concerned about other family issues can call the free Family Lives Helpline: 0808 800 2222 or visit