• Employers fail to deal with bullying at work adequately, say majority of staff

  • 13 Jan 2015
  • Comments 6 comments

Three-quarters of employees said job insecurity stops them standing up to bullies

A poll of more than 1,500 workers found that 91 per cent felt their organisation did not deal with bullying at work adequately.

The survey from charity Family Lives also found that 66 per cent of respondents witnessed bullying at work. More than two-fifths (43 per cent) said they were bullied by their line manager, 38 per cent were bullied by a colleague and 20 per cent bullied by a senior manager or chief executive.

Almost three-quarters (73 per cent) said the bullying they experienced was verbal including threats, while a similarly high proportion (60 per cent) felt the bullying was social, for example being excluded, ignored and isolated. And more than a third said that bullying they’d experienced had continued for over a year.

Survey respondents said that anxiety associated with workplace bullying had negatively affected their emotional health and well-being.

Worryingly,  78 per cent of respondents feel the financial climate and shortage of jobs stops individuals standing up to workplace bullying, 74 per cent said that it affected their family life and close relationships.

A fifth said they had been signed off work with stress caused by harassment and more than double this proportion (44 per cent) sought medical advice or counselling.

One respondent told the survey: “I was blamed for errors made by other staff so my work productivity greatly reduced as I was constantly checking database information that other staff compiled to ensure I was not blamed for any errors.

“I was asked to do work a certain way and then it was denied the request had been made. I became anxious, unable to eat and sleep. I dreaded going to work so much that I made myself ill until I was eventually diagnosed with anxiety, depression and work stress."

Although, 44 per cent of respondents felt they needed to take official action to get the bullying stopped, another respondent commented: "HR are there to protect management and the organisation. You are made to feel a trouble maker."

And another said: "Management are very weak and choose to ignore problems, bullying or otherwise, rather than to deal with them." 

Jeremy Todd, Family Lives chief executive, said: “With New Year Resolutions firmly on the agenda, January is often the month when unsettled and distraught employees actively seek alternative employment. Our survey indicates this is often as a result of a breakdown in employee/employer relations.”

He added: “Workplace bullying is undoubtedly going to impact on family life. It would be very hard for anyone not to bring troubles home from work, but the pressure that a situation at work can put on relationships can make family life extremely turbulent. Support is out there and we would encourage people not to ignore incidents hoping that they will rectify themselves. The workplace should be an environment of professionalism, respect and courtesy and whilst many employers are committed to establishing a bullying-free zone, it is clear that work still needs to be done.“

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Comments (6)
  • I, and other colleagues are being bullied and bashed verbally by our newly promoted management specialist aka supervisor. She is loud, abrasive and aggressive. Yesterday, after a series of e-mails regarding an issue, I told her exactly what the situation was; I wrote in the e-mail that I didn't appreciate being threatened at work and that I thought her manner of addressing people was sorely lacking. I copied in the manager. My breath is bated now, because I don't know if I'll be hauled into a disciplinary meeting after the Easter break. But if I am, I will make it clear that as a person with an HR background (my current role isn't in HR), I felt the need to speak up and confront this bullying that's been going on for so long. If no one else has the guts to flag it up, even though they(other supervisors and the manager) can all see it and hear it, I will. People don't have to bully you before the job gets done; other kinder, more courteous methods are equally proven to get things done in the work-place and I refuse to be brow-beaten at work, or to have my heart in my mouth whilst there. Like other commentators have written, it's appalling that there really is no recourse for employees being bullied/harassed at work, other than standing up for yourself and facing the risk of being labelled a trouble-maker, and/or the risk of losing your job.

  • Bullying is rife in local authorities , where despotic management goes

    unchallenged. A Director recently left a well known

    county council in outer London after bravely highlighting the

    endemic culture of bullying. Several years later the culture

    of bullying remains.

  • Bullying is a major problem in the workplace but one which in my experience,HR or senior management wish to deal with. There is wonderful policies designed to deal with such matters but in reality,the approach by HR and senior managers is to water down the complaint and protect the offender. Unfort' the higher up the organisational ladder the bullyer, the more they are protected. Hence the policies are nothing more than weasel words at best. I have see countless examples of blatant and 'covert' bullying. Is it any wonder we have a disengaged workforce and poor industrial relation sin our workplaces!

  • Have had the same situation. Line manager bullied me for four years. Her manager, also part of team did nothing much, another higher manager did nothing at all. They were all talk. Went to HR and was told by manager I shouldn't have! At the end of my tether I left and got a better job. They lost a good employee and I got a better employer, manager and friend! Agreed, regulatory body needed as I felt I got nowhere at all and bully never got her just desserts (so far as I know....!)

  • Having read your article, I am being bullied and harass for the last 3 years. I would like to know knowing what we know, how should employees take measures to deal with these matters? It is good publishing these results but if there is no regulatory body to handle these issues, these results are futile.

  • These figures highlight just how much things need to change. The trouble is that most people involved in bullying others never realise that they are doing it.