Workplace bullying is a MASSIVE problem, and not just in the hair and beauty industry. Nearly 3/4 of workers will be bullied at some point in their lives, and it’s one of the main reasons why people choose to switch jobs.

At HSA, we’re on a mission to end workplace bullying and to change the culture in our industry. We’ve already written about the warning signs of toxic workplace culture, and today we’re going to talk about how you can identify bullying in your salon.

Now, we need to stress that there is a difference between constructive criticism, and being told to do your job, and bullying. For example:

“Stop combing from the top down, it matts up the hair – start from the bottom up to decrease matting.” This is constructive criticism.

“What are you doing? Don’t you listen, you start from the bottom up, you idiot!” This is definitely bullying.

Here are 5 examples of workplace bullying that we come across way too often at HSA:

  1. Different treatment to your co-workers. If other apprentices get all the attention and training time, if you’re picked on for tiny mistakes while other stylists get away with it, or if you’re left out of plans to hang out after work –being singled out and isolated is super unfair.
  2. Refusing to train you – or holding you back. Is everyone in your TAFE class already onto foils while you’re still stuck at the basin? Is your boss always “too busy” to actually go through your books? Being deliberately and unreasonably held back when you’ve been passed by your teacher, is not just hurting your apprenticeship, but your self-worth, too.
  3. Meaningless tasks. Are you given jobs that have nothing to do with hair styling – or tasks are made unnecessarily difficult? It’s OK if your boss asks to help clean the salon, but it’s NOT OK to ask you to scrub the floor with a toothbrush. Ever.
  4.  Constant threats. It feels like your job is on the line for every. Little. Thing. You’re constantly told “there’s the door” or “don’t come in next week” or “There’s 10 other girls just waiting for your job” if you ask for a day off or to take your break. You shouldn’t be threatened just for wanting your entitlements.
  5. You’re struggling to cope. You can’t sleep because you’re stressing about work tomorrow. Or you’re eating/drinking/smoking your feelings, and relying on unhealthy coping mechanisms just to get through the day. If your health, mental and physical, is under stress, this is a big red flag.

When we talk to hair and beauty workers, almost everybody recall at least one of the above happening to them at some stage. Being threatened, demeaned, and singled out just seems to be part of the job.

But it’s absolutely not OK, and it’s not lawful, either.

You have rights under the Fair Work Act, including protection from workplace bullying. In Part 2, we’ll talk about how to take control of workplace bullying, whether it’s happening to you, or a co-worker.

But in the meantime, if you can relate to this story, then please, reach out to us. As an HSA member, you’ll receive one-on-one advice with our team, including mediation and support for bullying or harassment you’re experiencing at work. Life is too short to hate your job!