Forum: Bullying incidents at workplace often not taken seriously enough

While Ms Kuik Tze-Yin highlighted the experience of a Primary 4 pupil who was bullied on the school bus, I want to bring attention to bullying at the workplace (Be better people, so children don't become bullies, Feb 5).

I witnessed a manager screaming at a junior staff member almost every day using remarks like "You are brainless, get out of my sight", and watched how this junior employee sat at her desk crying every morning before she started work.

And these were not one-off incidents.

Another senior officer at the same workplace screamed when reports were not done the way she expected them to be.

One staff member who had been with the organisation for three months, and whose father had died in the second of those months, was told by her reporting officer not to "shed crocodile tears" when she made a mistake. She got emotional and upset while at work and subsequently left the organisation.

I highlighted all these incidents to the management, after the most senior officer I spoke to over four to six months did nothing.

In response, I was asked to be patient, even as I continued to witness incidents of verbal abuse daily. I was labelled as someone who was overreacting since "it can't be that bad" - a typical response when anyone tries to whistle-blow on an organisation with a toxic culture.

After 1½ years of this, I resigned to preserve my mental well-being.

I shared my experience with friends, and was taken aback when I heard many similar experiences from friends in other organisations as well as those, ironically, in the social service sector.

Toxic behaviour at the workplace is destructive. And while "toxic" individuals can easily be blamed for workplace bullying, leaders are the ones who ultimately should be held responsible.

Often, they allow such a culture to fester because no one wants to be seen as the bad guy telling others to do what is right.

There should be zero tolerance for emotional and psychological abuse in the workplace.

Wong Lai Chun

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.