Mpho headed up Product Marketing at GBT Holdings and for six years in a row he received the best performer award for innovation and creativity. He worked tirelessly every day and weekend, often forgetting his children`s school plays, birthday parties and neglected his duties at home. Being extremely proud and sometimes arrogant and brash, he would walk around with an air of sophistication and just purchased a multi-million-rand home with six garages for his favorite toys as he fondly spoke of them.
Covid – 19 came and shook the world and sadly GBT Holdings was not impervious to the effects same as thousands of other organizations across the world. Mpho was called in by HR and told that the entire Product Marketing team would become redundant due to the organization deciding to downsize and diversify its interests. The gravity of the meeting upon Mpho was like a blunt knife being wedged through his heart. He was devastated. How could this happen to the best performer in the organization? Mpho could not face his wife and tell her what was happening let alone his children. What was he to do?
The emotional and phycological effects of not dealing with it correctly.
Suddenly he could not eat, sleep and developed terrible stomach pains and migraines that the Drs could not explain and treat correctly. Weekends came and went so quickly and Mpho dreaded going to work. He became dejected, withdrawn and his performance took a nosedive. He started getting palpitations, became extremely anxious and would hyper ventilate when stressed. He would go home, scream at his wife and children for no apparent reason and to make matters worse, his wife asked him to take her to the store to buy some curtains. He lashed out in a violent fit of rage, cussing and cursing at her that her timing was so bad, and he had all this pressure upon himself. Things got even worse at work when HR told him to take time off and seek alternate opportunities.
This was all way too much. Mpho left the building and drove home like a maniac and almost collided with an oncoming truck. Upon arriving at home, he drove over the sprinkler systems and wet the car and himself when he got out. This was more than he could handle, and he then committed suicide by taking handful of sleeping pills and other pain stimulants. Mpho`s inability to deal with reality robbed his family from a future with him and caused terrible heartache and pain for his wife and children. To make things worse none of his life policies paid out and his family battled financially for many, many years to come.
There are probably many more people like Mpho that failed to deal with the realities of bullying correctly and committed suicide. These individuals became victims of their circumstance and paid the ultimate price.
All of us have the power within ourselves to choose how we deal with adversity. Bullying has a devastating effect on mental health when left untreated. Recognize when it happens, understand why it is happening and take corrective action as best you can to prevent yourself becoming like Mpho.
The current situation now in South Africa
The government is busy promulgating a code of good conduct on the prevention and elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work. This is a major milestone that will ensure organizations comply with the code in terms of discrimination, gender-based violence, harassment, and bullying. It is especially significant to the employee in that there will now be early reporting mechanisms, awareness, and training as well as policy to identify and prevent abuse that could potentially result in a case of suicide.
We all have to be mindful that companies at large were not trained to identify bullying, let alone deal with reported incidents effectively. Therefore, companies today will be allowed the opportunity to be more ethical in their approach and given the chance to do the right things like train their staff, implement proper policy and have robust awareness campaigns to eradicate bullying in the world of work. Employees and employer alike have a duty to be responsible and professional in dealing with these issues and not be malicious and frivolous and always keep an open mind due to the severity and the consequences to the organization and the employee alike.