- Experts have warned cautioned Nigerians against tolerating workplace bullying in organisations and work environments
- The co-founder of the Equality Development and Research Centre (EDRC) warned that acts of bullying in the workplace can hinder the productivity of staff
- Marsha Nwanne-Umeh called for the enactment of laws that could mitigate workplace bullying within organisations across the country
With the growing dangers of workplace bullying which include psychological deterioration, starvation, frustration, low self-esteem, pain and sometimes even death, experts have taken the bull by the horn to educate Nigerian workers on the need to protect their mental health.
Speaking at a one-day training on workplace bullying, Marsha Nwanne-Umeh, the co-founder of Equality Development and Research Centre said studies have investigated possible links between individuals' experiences of victimisation at school and what they go through in their place of work.
The training organised by EDRC captured the leadership and all the staff of the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) at the agency's headquarters in Abuja.
The organisation with the mantra "Bullying Na Ment" aims to end abusive behaviours in workplaces.
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According to Nwanne-Umeh, many times, high school bullies tend to carry their traits to workplaces and continue the same kind of actions among their colleagues while sometimes, the bullies can grow to be bullied.
Listing some of the attributes of a bully at places of work, Nwanne-Umeh submitted that workplace place bully can be seen as 'repeated' unreasonable behaviour directed towards an employee or group of employees.
She noted that such behaviour can create health or safety risks and as well reduce productivity and needed motivation for good performance in the workplace.
Nwanne-Umeh further added that traits of workplace bullying can include actions like verbal abuse, excluding or isolating particular employees, assigning tasks that are impossible for the employee to successfully complete, harassment or intimidation, and assigning meaningless tasks unrelated to the employee’s job.
It also includes changing work rosters with the deliberate intention of inconveniencing particular employees, intentionally withholding information that prevents an employee from effectively discharging his or her duty; and threats of dismissal.
“Once people realised that what they are doing is wrong, and even experiencing it is wrong on all levels that is the beginning of the success story. We have come a little farther to say that we intend to intervene.
“We have psycho-social support doctors who are willing to work with us and a lot of them are even on pro bono basis. We also have a child psychologist and these are people who intend to break that cycle which we established in the training that bullying starts at school and moves to workplaces.”
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Recommendations to be adopted in the fight against workplace bullying
Noting that workplace bully is more widespread than anyone could ever imagine, Nwanne-Umeh called for legislation that would specifically address such ills and bring an end to bullying in places of work.
Describing workplace bullying as a pandemic, Nwannes-Umeh said there’s a need to lobby legislators to see that they look at it and consider pushing it forward to combat the behaviour.
Also, for organisations, she recommended an anti-bullying policy which can be adopted by companies and by extension followed by staff; training of all members of the organisation especially managers; establishment of a confidential report system that is reprisal proof; conduct attitude surveys and treat every complaint about bullying seriously by investigating such.
In his address, the director-general of NIHSA, Clement Nze described the training by EDRC as apt and knowledge enriching.
Nze said the training explicitly highlighted acts which are taken for granted but have pierced deep to the extent of creating tension among co-workers and even hurting staff at the workplace.
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“This is good for the agency for the staff to know their boundaries, how to relate with individuals. Human beings are of different make-up. We will be able to take people as friends and colleagues.
“Whether you’re employee or employer, subordinates or superior officer you will have to treat people in a dignifying way because each person has his or her own rights so as to give best within the work environment.”
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The Rochas Foundation had earlier called for an improved learning environment for Nigerian children.
The foundation said Nigeria must do more to ensure that all schools and learning environments are healthy and safe.
The director-general of the foundation, Uchechi Rochas, said the 15 million out-of-school children in Nigeria called for urgent action.
Cases of child abuse, bullying and killing in a school environment
Earlier in the year, there have been stories of young Nigerians, mostly children, who had suffered various attacks, prominent amongst them were Sylvester Omoroni, Hanifa Abubakar, and Keren Happuch Akpagher, and so many others.
Sylvester died after he was allegedly bullied by some of his schools at Dowen College in Lekki area of Lagos state.
In another incident, a 5-year-old girl, Hanifa Abubakar was killed by the proprietor of her school, Noble Kids Nursery and Primary School after he (the proprietor) had demanded N6 million as ransom from the child's parents.