08 September 2009

Australian Workplace Bullying Is Out Of Control - 25% of Australians have been bullied

Bullying is rife in Australian workplaces, a new survey shows, with one half of respondents saying they had witnessed the behaviour.

The Drake International survey of more than 800 employees also revealed 25 per cent had experienced bullying themselves.

Silence, isolation, verbal insults and sarcasm were the most common cases, with public humiliation ranking in second place.

Bullying from managers or supervisors represented about 50 per cent of cases, while 25 per cent of respondents reported being targeted by other employees.

Gender proved no barrier to the behaviour, with almost equal numbers of male and female perpetrators, the survey found.

Both sexes were also equally targeted by workplace bullies.

Poor management of issues leads to Identifiable psychological Hazards

Poor management of the issue by companies was also revealed, with just 30 per cent of victims and 50 per cent of witnesses satisfied with their employer's response to incidents.

Drake International said the results were disappointing and worrying from an organisational perspective.

"Bullying is an identifiable psychological hazard in the workplace and therefore this is not just a conduct issue," Drake's national client services manager Judy Harper said.

"Organisations need to do more - as a minimum they have a statutory duty of care to manage and control this inappropriate and damaging behaviour."


Subtle digs most hurtful in workplace

Workplace bullying is usually subtle, taking the form of silence and isolation, verbal insults, and sarcasm, a recent study has shown.

36 per cent cited subtle forms of bullying as the most common and damaging behaviour. Public humiliation and criticism was the second-most common behaviour – representing 26 per cent of instances. Gender was also revealed as no barrier; male and females were almost equally at fault as the bully or as the target of the behaviour.

Responses highlighted workplaces’ lack of policy and action on dealing with workplace bullying, with only 30 per cent of bullying targets and less than 50 per cent of witnesses satisfied with their organisation’s handling of the situation. More than 50 per cent of respondents also noted that the bullying behaviour had been going on for more than six months.

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