frustrated sad angry work employee bullying

A new study has revealed the extent of bullying in the workplace with over a third of employees in the UK revealing that they have experienced or witnessed bullying at work over the past three years.

The research, conducted Employment law specialists Kew Law, asked employees of 131 companies in the UK whether they had been bullied or witnessed bullying in the workplace, and 71 per cent said yes.

35 per cent of respondents said that they had been direct victims of workplace bullying themselves.

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According to the findings, the most commonly identified form of bullying in the workplace by 27 per cent of those who participated in the study was overloading individuals with work.

20 per cent highlighted that they had been witness to or victim of unfair treatment whilst 18 per cent emphasised picking on or regularly undermining someone.

16 per cent noted the spread of malicious rumours as a common form of bullying, and the same percentage also identified ignoring and excluding someone’s contribution as well.

In addition, 7 per cent respondents picked up on the denial of someone’s training or promotion opportunities as a commonplace bullying tactic as well.

According to Kew Law, These align closely with the government’s definitions of bullying in the workplace.

When broken down into demographics, the figures show a general decrease in the likelihood of bullying as age increases – with only 23 per cent of 45-54 year olds saying they have experienced bullying, compared with 44 per cent of 21-24 year olds.

In addition, 40 per cent of female respondents said they had been bullied, compared with 31 perc cent of male respondents. 67 per cent of employees at director level had been bullied, making them the most likely category to be targeted.

Of those who had been bullied, 60% were bullied to the extent that their productivity was affected, they took time off work, or they even left the company. 13% resigned altogether, while 28% took leave, and 15% took unpaid leave, as a result of the bullying. This shows not only that bullying seriously impacts an individual’s ability to do their job, and in turn affects the productivity of the wider business, but that companies are not doing enough to keep bullied employees in the office, in either the short or long term.

Karen Kwong, Director of Renoc Consulting and an Organisational Psychologist and wellbeing coach, commented on the findings: “Bullying can be extremely damaging for an employee. On an individual level, they are likely to lose motivation and confidence in themselves, suffer from severe anxiety and stress which in turn could lead to more serious mental and physical illnesses.  This, in turn, might lead to their work suffering too, through no fault of their own.

“The individual may also start losing faith in the team, the manager and the organisation which is bad for overall morale and the reputation of any firm. These days things like Glassdoor and social media can very quickly ruin reputations of even the most reputable of businesses.”

Alongside identifying regular forms of bullying experienced in companies, the study also highlighted the need for some HR departments to improve how they handle cases of workplace bullying.

22 per cent of respondents said the bullying was not dealt with despite raising it with HR, and only 11 per cent of respondents felt that the situation then improved after doing so.

35 per cent of respondents who had been bullied in the workplace said that a greater amount of confidentiality should have been upheld throughout the handling of the issue whilst 26 per cent felt that better communication was needed from the company on what constitutes unacceptable behaviour in the workplace.

In addition, despite 13 per cent having left a job because of bullying, just 4 per cent raised the issue with HR before doing so.

Given the very real impact of workplace bullying on long-term mental health, these figures suggest that not only do HR departments need to overhaul their grievance procedures, but make themselves much more approachable too, suggests Kew Law.

“Procedures are vital, as are ways in which to escalate and report such complaints objectively. Often, people who have been bullied don’t want to say anything because they fear reprisals – a very real issue,” continued Karen.

“HR is often powerless to do much if the bully is a powerful decision-maker or moneymaker in the organisation. This is why to me, it should start from the top, the culture should be one of respect cascading all the way down to all levels. Then it is less likely to happen. And if it does, it will be swiftly and effectively handled in a fair and objective manner.”

The survey also attempted to find out how companies can improve their response to bullying.

Up to 46 per cent of employees surveyed said they would not report bullying behaviour with either the HR department or senior management, and 33 per cent would rather take it up with the bully directly than raise it with HR.

The research reinforces that bullying is not taken seriously enough in the eyes of employees, stated Kew Law, and that HR teams should better encourage the reporting of bullying behaviour when it is observed.

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We respect your privacy BarnettNewsroomReports & ResearchSector Newsbullying,director,findings,Glassdoor,HR,huma resources,Kew Law,Renoc Consulting,research,Social Media,study,workplace bullyingA new study has revealed the extent of bullying in the workplace with over a third of employees in the UK revealing that they have experienced or witnessed bullying at work over the past three years. The research, conducted Employment law specialists Kew Law, asked employees of 131 companies in the UK whether...News, views & products for mobility, access and independent living professionals