3 Types of Office Bullying in the Philippines and How to Stop Them

Besides from seeking greener pastures, there are other reasons employees are leaving their companies. Even if the pay and benefits are top-grade, at the presence of office bullies, peace of mind is something that some employees would never trade for a hefty payslip.

In the Philippines, many employees have witnessed or fallen victim to some sort of office bullying, or in some cases, instigated them. While some people just tolerate them or found a way around them, there are times that it just becomes too much.

Employee attrition digs deep into the pockets of any company, and it goes even deeper if the employees were top-performers. From payroll administrative tasks to final pay to the hiring process all over again, it all adds up to be quite an expense.

There is not much to say when an employee decides to leave because of being not content with the work culture. At that point when the employee submits the resignation letter, the onset of the psychological (or in some cases, physical) damage was already too much, rendering their decision as final. If it happened to one employee, it could easily happen to another.

The best way to stop office bullying is to put an end to them as soon as they are identified. Below lists the common types of bullying at the workplace and what to do about them:

Office Gossips

First of all, the gossip definition: “Casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details which are not confirmed as true.” In line with the workplace, the office title tattle is often stories about other employees that may or may not be true but often sensationalized to perpetuate or maintain the interest of those who are hearing it.

When used to undermine another person, office gossips could drag down the morale of the targeted employee to the point that he or she loses interest to work or even show up at the office. Gossips also have the ability to make officemates take sides, dividing the group into factions.

Alala mo si (name omitted)?” according to a former colleague whose name requested to be not mentioned. “Kaya sya umiyak nun, kung anong ano chismis ang sinasabi nila (name omitted, referring to a group of coworkers). Kaya sya siguro nag-resign.”

In extreme circumstances, office gossips can even lead to legal lawsuits for defamation, invasion of privacy, and even harassment. When taken to that level, the reputation of the company’s management, along with the company itself, will surely be questioned.

How to Identify Bad Gossip

Determining whether an office gossip is the damaging type is as easy as asking these questions:

Q. Could you say the gossip to the person who it is about without he or she getting hurt?

A. If No, it’s bad gossip.

Q. Would the gossip bring about conflict?

A. Yes, it’s bad gossip.

Q. Is the gossip about the employee’s work situation based on unfounded rumour?

A. Yes, it’s bad gossip.

Q. Does the gossip propagate or celebrate the misfortune of the employee?

A. Yes, it’s bad gossip.

What Can Be Done About Bad Office Gossip

Once the office gossip is identified as a bad one, both management and employees need to collaborate to put an end to it. Here are some tips on how to handle it:


Managers, leaders, and supervisors need to work together to implement and strictly enforce policies that stop office gossips.  The policy may include setting the steps for managers and employees on what to do once a bad office gossip was identified, how the guilty party will be reprimanded, and so on.

Beside from that, management needs to be active in confronting perpetrators. They may address the situation in a group at first, or go straight to personally talking with the gossiper. It is crucial that managers explain how the gossip is disrupting the work environment and the overall productivity. who in turn will tell the story to another. Upon hearing a rumour, employees may simply ignore and choose not to spread the gossip any further. If possible, steer away from the gossiper by using work or being too busy to stay and chat.

Another way to shut down gossipmongers is by giving positive statements about the company or targeted individual. In most cases, it is enough to steal the thunder of the gossiper or the “juiciness” of the rumour.

If the office gossip is getting out of hand, employees should escalate it immediately to their entrusted manager or supervisor. Their actions should be conducive in containing and ending the gossip from growing any further.

The most important action that the management could do is to set a positive example for the employees. This means not engaging or propagating negative gossips, and only encourage positive stories about the company and their employees.


Gossip works by one person telling it to another person who in turn will tell the story to another. Upon hearing a rumour, employees may simply ignore and choose not to spread the gossip any further. If possible, steer away from the gossiper by using work or being too busy to stay and chat.

Another way to shut down gossipmongers is by giving positive statements about the company or targeted individual. In most cases, it is enough to steal the thunder of the gossiper or the “juiciness” of the rumour.

If the office gossip is getting out of hand, employees should escalate it immediately to their entrusted manager or supervisor. Their actions should be conducive in containing and ending the gossip from growing any further.

Ultimately, employees could avoid being gossiped by keeping their private lives private from colleagues who are known to spread rumours around. Only share with co-workers who have proven to be trustworthy and not fond of spreading the misery of others or misfortunes of the company.


There are various forms of shaming among colleagues in the office scene. Consequently, regardless of the type, they all lead to negative results like the deprivation of drive to be more knowledgeable, the unhealthy working environment, or simply being content to be at work. The following shows three forms of shaming at the office:


Also referred to as anti-intellectualism, smart-shaming is the act of downplaying or embarrassing an individual due to his or her intelligent remarks, deeds, or even by appearance. For years, smart-shaming is on an upward trend in the Philippines. Its growing popularity is apparent in the popular phrases or terminologies used on local TV, social media, or everyday life.

In an office setting, smart-shaming encourages employees to curb their performances, so that they are not perceived to be more intelligent than others. It lowers the drive to be better than one could be by saying that being smart is not socially accepted.

How to Identify Smart-Shaming

In the Philippines, smart-shaming is usually instigated with verbal cues; though, at times, physical hostility and attacks take the place of words. For those initiated by written or spoken words, it is a matter of hearing the following phrases (or similar to terms) being used:

Sige, matalino ka na!

Ang dami mong alam!

Ikaw na magaling!

Edi wow!


Bobo na ko, sige na!

Ang dami mong alam!

Ang lalim!

Ikaw na ang magaling!

Talaga lang ha…”

Pa-English-English ka pa!”

“Mukha kang ewan.”

Di kaw na lang tumakbong presidente!


Single Shaming

Though not as common in all offices, having a “Single” relationship status is a point of interests for bullies. To them, those who are not dating or married are either looked down upon, bashed or made fun of at the office. Being exposed to such negative reactions to being single at work could easily bring about demotivation and disinterest to be at the office.

How to Identify Single-Shaming

Unlike smart-shaming, there are no specific phrases or words that help identify if a person is being single-shamed. However, if the connotation or intonation of what was said towards another colleague suggests impairment due to his or her being single, it is safe to say that it’s single-shaming.

Shamed for Not Being Like Everyone Else

When a person does not fit in a clique or has a health condition, there is a tendency that he or she will be segregated or shamed, which is debatably said to be caused by our human nature. This is apparent in children, high school, and even in college.

As working adults and in ideal circumstances, morality should have stepped up and acceptance for those who are different are achieved. But in some cases, some colleagues are stuck in the Mean Girls phase.

In a reputable office in Ayala, employee Sofia (not her real name) recounts how she was bullied for not dressing up or wearing makeup like the rest of her female colleagues. “Pabubulong sila pag nakikita nila ako. O di ako sinasama pag may activity o meeting. Pag sinama naman ako, bigla na lang iiwan nila ako sa table tapos di na sila babalik.”

For narcolepsy advocate and account manager Judith Rodriguez (IG @hey_judz), she explained how she was bullied for having a sleeping disorder,  “Yung pagpipicture nila sa mga tulog ko bullying rin yun and sinsesend pa sa chat group. Buti na lang hindi ako pikon. But sabi ko wag lang umabot sa boss namin.”

How to Identify Bullying For Being Different

From a first-person point of view, being bullied for not fitting in or for having a health condition is easy to spot. Feelings of mockery, isolation, and disdain are indicators of being bullied and should not be ignored. There is a reason if one is feeling such emotions towards colleagues, and it is because of their treatment.

However, from a second person (the bully) or third person (the audience) perspective, such types of bullying are harder to identify. What was said or done was usually misunderstood as “just having fun” and are usually done for the sake of laughter. However, in certain situations, the bullies have a more evil agenda.

With or without mal-intention, as long as the targeted individuals are not laughing with you or have implicitly or explicitly said they do not like what was said about or done to them because it stirs the emotions (the ones mentioned above), it is a form of bullying.

What Can Be Done About Shaming

After understanding that what was said or done by an individual or group is classified as shaming, there are actions that both the management and employees can take to put an end to it:


The first step is that in a meeting or group sessions, management needs to explain what shaming is, what are the different types, and its consequences in terms of lower productivity, quality of work, the damage to the reputation of the company, and most importantly, to the victim.

Much like the action taken to stop bad office gossip, the second task that the management should do is to impose policies and a culture of intolerance to shaming. For smart shaming, management should strongly encourage not using any smart-shaming words, actions, and intonations among colleagues.

Ideally, management should also incorporate empathy exercises in regular meetings or team building activities. Such exercises could lead to better sensitivity, tolerance, and appreciation among colleagues.


For employees, they should take it up to management, or human resources if the situation is getting out of hand. However, if the employees believe that there is a chance that the bullying can stop through a civil conversation and that the opposing party will change their ways, then it is advisable to do so.

By expressing how the shaming affects them, the bullying may stop altogether since, at times, the bullies thought it was just harmless fun. When talking to a bully, it is important to establish an effective communication by deciding on what and how to say first to prevent an exchange of harsh words.

Physical Abuse

Probably the most extreme among the other types of office bullying, physical abuse is the most obvious and damaging. Besides from the physical damage, it also affects the victim in a psychological and emotional level.

Examples of physical abuse may include shoving, hitting, or any unsolicited actions that hurt the other individual.

How to Identify Physical Abuse at Work

There are visual identifiers such as actually seeing rough-housing, punching, chokeholds, and so on. However, bullies who are careful tend to do their bullying outside the area where they could be easily seen and reprimanded for their actions.

Victims of physical abuse may have bruises or inability to perform their tasks due to pain or the such. Less obvious signs may include being withdrawn or isolated, fearfulness, substance abuse, or having inconsistent explanations for their ailments.

What Can Be Done About Physical Abuse

Upon identifying that an employee is either bully or bullied, management and victims should immediately take action.


Call in the perpetrators and explain that their actions are not acceptable and tolerated. For horsing around with no injuries or mal-intent, a fair verbal reprimand may suffice. But if the situation is severe as in an actual attack, contact security if it is happening on the spot. It is also best to talk to the company lawyers as soon as possible.


Alert the management immediately about the situation, and if the abuse causes serious injuries and fear for one’s life or loved members, contact the police. Otherwise, if it is not, talk with the bully or go directly to management.

Office bullying is a serious matter that all companies should pay attention to and address in an appropriate manner. When setting up policies, seek the help of experts such as anti-bullying organizations or experts to help identify the different types of bullying and their consequences, according to a talented yet shy counsellor who requested not to be credited for her expert advice and contributions to this article.

The sad part is that most companies only take on setting up policies and actions against office bullying when it is too late when the employees had submitted their resignation letters. With the right attitude, culture, and policies, the employee attrition rate due to not being satisfied with the work environment could be greatly reduced or avoided. When it comes to office bullying, it is always better to act instead of reacting.

Finding signs of office bullying or low work satisfaction can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be… Afterall, it’s JustPayroll.ph.

We offer enterprise-grade payroll software, premium biometric devices, and superior outsourced payroll services. We can generate reports (such as for time and attendance) that could help identify signs of low employee morale.

Discover how easy life can be by choosing us, simply give us a call at +63 (02) 808-4707 or fill out the form below to get in touch with our payroll customer care.

About the JustPayroll.ph Writer - Rayan Ramos

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