Bullying is a major concern at the workplace and lists among top contributors to stress and mental problems faced by employees. A recent study by Unison showed an alarming increase in the number of employees bullied at work. When compared to a similar survey back in 1997, it can be seen that the number of victims has now doubled.
7,000 employees were surveyed for this study, and about one third said that they were bullied during the past 6-month period. Bullying in any form – intimidation, rudeness, criticism, exclusion, excessive work monitoring or secrecy – was found to be an inevitable part of the workplace environment according to all the respondents. However, 91% felt that it was unfair that bullies were allowed to continue with their undesirable behaviour.
Almost 80% of those who are victims of such behaviour said that it had affected their mental and physical well being adversely. One third of them had taken leave of absence or resigned from work because of this problem.
Unison’s General Secretary Dave Prentis said that the alarming increase in this kind of harassment shows clearly the need for immediate and effective measures to tackle the problem. He said that employers must realise that helping employees work with respect and dignity is necessary for the success of any business. Stress and depression claim a huge 13.7 million workdays per annum, and bullying is a major contributor to the deterioration of mental health among employees, said Prentis.
Unison has made an appeal to the government to make provisions for stern action against bullies at the workplace. It has called for measures that employers can use to curb bullying and to aid enforcement of regulations through Employment Tribunals. It has also asked HSE to ensure that anti-bullying measures are in place in all workplaces.