Is there bullying on the family farm?

Is there bullying on the family farm?

I recently was given a list of indicators of workplace bullying that made sobering reading. These are the indicators used in many industries that assess if people are being bullied at work. Listed below are just some of them.

Someone continually checking up on you or your work when it is not necessary.

Having your opinions or views ignored.

Being treated in a disrespectful or rude way.

Being insulted or having offensive remarks made about you.

Gossip and rumours being spread about you or having allegations made against you.

Being humiliated or ridiculed in connection with your work.

(Sincere thanks to Professor Duncan Lewis )

This is not meant as yet another stick to beat the farmer, however as an industry we have to recognise that certain behaviours are thought of as unacceptable in the workplace.

We often learn our behaviours from previous generations but we now need to realise that behaving like your grandfather who was an awkward old sod is no longer acceptable. In my experience some families can be very cruel to each other. Therefore maybe it’s a good time to have a look at the behaviour in your family business. I know of some businesses who thought it a good idea to draw up a code of conduct just to have a discussion around what was considered unacceptable.

It is also interesting to note how farmers are treated by others. The obvious ones would be animal rights activists, some sections of the media etc etc. However what about Defra and farm inspectors? Is their behaviour acceptable?

Sadly I am increasingly coming across mental health issues. In the UK one farmer commits suicide every week. Financial difficulties and isolation are often quoted as the causes but what about bullying?

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Siân Bushell Associates based in South West Wales empowering family businesses in Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England by asking the hard questions to facilitate succession planning for change and growth.

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