*TRIGGER WARNING – SENSITIVE CONTENT
As CEO and Founder of the Canadian Institute of Workplace Bullying & Harassment Resources, Linda created the first full-service workplace bullying resource center in Canada and received awards from the Government of Alberta and the University of Calgary for her expertise and services.
Linda’s clinical and professional training includes a master’s degree specializing in workplace bullying and trauma. She is a certified trauma therapist and social worker with 33 years of experience in her profession. She is an active member of the International
Association on Workplace Bullying and Harassment, and a proud alumnus of the Workplace Bullying Institute in the USA.
Linda has designed two aspects of services for all professions and industries. One is for leaders offering consultations, coaching, and training. And the other is her Workplace Respect Clinic. The clinic offers safe and confidential services for education, training, or advocacy, or treatment services. Treatment is a combined coach/counsellor service for individuals, (complainants, witnesses, or respondents) or groups of employees.
What inspired you to create this organization?
At the time that I experienced a chronic case of workplace bullying, I was a social worker with 22 years of professional experience. I had helped thousands of families and individuals navigate systems (medical, mental health, human rights, WCB, unions, and criminal systems). In addition, I supervised and trained investigators to complete assessments for all forms of abuse including domestic violence, sexual abuse, child abuse, and addictions. So, I was initially ashamed, humiliated, and embarrassed to discover that I was the target of long-term bullying, in the form of workplace mobbing. Mobbing is bullying with a gang-like mentality.
I was bullied at my place of work. At, the time I was working in a large cancer treatment center. It was my dream job. I loved it and I excelled at it. The deep shame that I suffered caused me to isolate myself and become silent for fear of losing my job. And for fear of not being believed or safe! With repeated insidious incidences of insults over a long period, I was eventually diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSD).
Have you ever heard the term “death by a thousand cuts?”. Well, I adapted this quote to say, “workplace bullying is a psychological injury caused by a thousand insults.”
You may be surprised to know that the members of this mobbing group included a psychologist who terrorized a few of us, a social worker who was also brutalized by the same psychologist and was forced to bully me, a pastor who I make no excuses for, and an office manager who I describe as the “silent bully” for she contributed only behind closed doors. In addition, two more bullies were in the HR department. One was an overbearing, dominating, authoritarian type who bulldozed her way through her job, and the other one I innocently caught doing something unethical. Out of her fear, she turned on me and joined the mob. Sad thing is, I never intended to report her. I can share now that my need to isolate myself was due to emotional and cognitive fatigue, fear, and ultimately my vulnerability. My hiding and becoming silent was for fear of yet another unpredictable side-blinding attack. This meets the needs of those who abuse their power. I strongly encourage anyone who is bullied at work to seek someone who can support you to prevent isolation and becoming more injured.
The Good News is…
Today, in Canada most of our province’s workplace bullying is illegal. I am now helping to build awareness worldwide, collaborating with many networks around the world, and continually filling in the gaps between systems.
Who can access your services?
All employers, leaders, faculties, industries, professionals, community centers, insurance companies, medical teams, individuals – you name it! I even have daycares calling and asking me to train their staff on workplace bullying.
What is the impact?
Those of us who do this work see employees suffering severely, every day. Over time, with this long-term stress, their immune system becomes jeopardized, and they begin to catch frequent colds and viruses. As the bullying and harassment progresses, they begin to experience insomnia, anxiety, then panic attacks. Symptoms many have never experienced before. We see thousands of cases of depression, many cases of PTSD, including suicidal ideation and, far too many completed suicides. Even cases of homicide.
The youngest that we know of to take their life due to bullying, is eight years old. The ages continue right up to seniors of all ages. This must stop!
We see clients who develop cardiac conditions due to this long-term high level of stress, and we know of many who have died due to heart attacks. Cardiac arrests proved not to be related to their health history. It’s proven to be related to the stress of being targeted. WCB has accepted a few of these cases and paid the grieving spouses for their loss. It will never be enough.
People suffer from migraines, strokes, gastrointestinal diseases, ulcers, GERD, skin conditions, chronic fatigue, loss of focus, concentration, and memory, burnout. Even their spouses and children are impacted as they watch their vibrant mother or father become recluses, and see their power and joy diminish before their eyes.
This abuse also costs the organizations; for example, recruitment costs, for many excellent employees, will leave a toxic workplace, costs of insurance for sick benefits, legal fees, and more. I believe that most Employers are not addressing these cases appropriately and therefore it is costing them millions to billions of dollars each year.
Steps to Put in Place When you are Bullied
- Start documenting the moment you feel something is not right. Trust your gut. I know we are all busy and tired, and this seems cumbersome. I found an amazing affordable phone app that can help. I mean this is amazing, it’s called trackassess.com. An app like this will help your mental health for it will keep track of concerns, signs, symptoms, and print out a very professional document. Document whether you plan to report abuse or not.
- See your doctor and have him/her monitor your symptoms. Also, consider seeing a professional trained and experienced in this area. For support, guidance, education, and assistance to develop a personalized strategy. Two other professionals are documenting on your behalf.
- Read your companies’ policies and procedures. Review your locations legislation on this topic both federal and provincially.
There are more steps but these three will help save you injuries, costs, delays, help your case, and your health.
What is exciting right now?
I now see the shaming, blaming, silencing of those targeted in the workplace, finally coming out of the closet too! The closet door is opening as of 2021 and it is about time! We are making progress. More people are talking about it, more professional services are being developed, and today, YOU don’t have to go through this alone. We finally have policies and legislation throughout most of Canada!
My motto is that “this is a worldwide problem, and we need a worldwide solution.” Well, there is power in numbers so how much more positive power can you get?
I truly did not think that I would see all of this in my lifetime. The #metoo movement helped accelerate awareness and so have many others around the world who do this work! Many of us work relentlessly to create psychological safety in the workplace. We need more! Trust me we still have a long way to go, but I know now that when my grandchildren are all grown and ready to work, they will not have to worry about being traumatized like myself or millions of others around the world. Times are changing! Workplace bullying is no longer being normalized so people will need to make some good changes. We can still have fun at work, tease and make jokes, just take the abuse out of it!
A Call to Action
All organizations need to promote psychological safety and follow through daily on their commitment to Zero Tolerance of workplace bullying and harassment.
Advice for Employers
Business owners and their leaders need to know that the basics of bullying. One-hour webinars found online are not enough to understand what is and what is not workplace bullying. Or what to do about it! Don’t cheat your employees, they are watching. Your decisions will impact the work environment. When employees don’t feel safe, respected, or trust their leaders, this negatively impacts their motivation, morale, productivity, and their dedication to your organization.
- Research shows up to 74% of bullying is coming from leadership. This means leaders are not being set up for success and that places your staff at risk. Hire for merit, train annually, assess and monitor progress, make them accountable, and over 74% of risks and concerns are eliminated. When leaders do not tolerate bullying, it removes staff toxicity as well. That’s 100% savings! Imagine the productivity!
- Business owners, make sure your entire leadership team is cohesive on the commitment to zero tolerance. One weak link will negatively impact any progress you make.
- Fact: confident, competent leaders do not bully. Hire those who are qualified, experienced, skilled, and mentor and monitor leaders regularly. Leaders set the tone of a work environment, what side of that tone do you want to be on?
This movement is in action, nothing will stop these changes from entering your workplace. You don’t’ want to be left behind and identified as a toxic leader, or as a toxic workplace. Early intervention is best.
To learn more about Linda Crockett and her work click here https://instituteofworkplacebullyingresources.ca/contact/ for more information about workplace bullying and harassment.