Workplace bullying on the rise

The Bullying and Harassment in Australian Workplaces: Results from the Australian Workplace Barometer 2014-15 reports that supervisors are most commonly perceived as the source of bullying and should be provided with education and training on appropriate supervisory behaviours, especially for managing employees’ performance.

The study found that nearly half of the 4,200 workers surveyed were experiencing bullying at least once a week, and a third had been bullied for more than a year.

It also found the prevalence of workplace bullying was on the rise, with only seven per cent of workers reporting being bullied from 2009 to 2011.

“This information is important to the development of national policy and guidance to promote improved psychological health in Australian workplaces,” SWA research and evaluation director Dr Fleur de Crespigny said.

“It is not clear why there has been an increase in the estimated prevalence of bullying, but it is worth noting the data are based on self-reported bullying and it is possible that growing awareness and recognition of mental health in the workplace, including bullying, has contributed to the increase,” she said.shutterstock_450014923_healthy_web_image

The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry believe that every workplace should help promote good mental health, prevent mental illness and have the tools to support people with mental health problems. OHS law ensures that employers look after the mental wellbeing of their employees as much as their physical safety – this includes bullying.

According to the report, bullying was most common in the electricity, gas and water supply, health and community services, and government administration and defence industries.

Being sworn at or yelled at, being humiliated in front of others and being physically assaulted by patients or clients were the most common forms of harassment, it says.

Women were more likely to experience unwanted sexual advances, unfair treatment because of their gender and physical assault or threats from clients or patients, while men were significantly more likely to be sworn or yelled at.

Negative comments relating to race or ethnicity were experienced by 7.4 per cent of participants, the report says.

“To mitigate the deleterious impact of bullying and harassment there must be a solid commitment from senior management to prioritise and communicate good work health and safety policies, practices, and procedures,” the report says.

“Strategies to address workplace bullying should emphasise organisational-level primary prevention through monitoring and modifying the risk factors for bullying in the organisational system.”

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