Bullying and harassment report released

Safe Work Australia released a report this month which explores the trends and patterns of workplace bullying and harassment.

The Bullying and Harassment in Australian Workplaces: Results from the Australian Workplace Barometer Project 2014/2015 report collected data across all states and territories in Australia, producing unsurprising, yet disturbing results about the shockingly high rates of bullying in the workplace.

The report found that overall in Australia, 9.7% of employees have experienced bullying behaviour at work, a staggering 2.7% in just the last four years. A third of bullying victims experience it on at least a weekly basis.

The Northern Territory is the biggest culprit, with a bullying average of 14%. Looking at it from an industry perspective, the top five industries with the greatest prevalence of bullying are:

  1. electricity, gas and water supply industry (18.5%)
  2. health and community services (14.3%)
  3. government administration and defence (13.7%)
  4. transport and storage (13.1%)
  5. mining (13%)

The report paints a bleak picture, but the results are hardly unexpected. More and more businesses are experiencing workplace bullying and with approximately one in every ten employees reporting bullying behaviour, it is unlikely anyone will remain untouched by the issue for long.

The report also found that the victims of bullying are more likely to be women, and the female gender were also more commonly subject to unwanted sexual advances and unfair treatment on the basis of gender. Men were significantly more likely to be sworn or yelled at while in the workplace.

The risks associated with bullying are innumerable, ranging from adverse psychological health to decreased productivity. Depression, stress and anxiety common result from bullying, as a consequence of either the original experience or the subsequent poor handling of the issue by the employer.

The report recommended that employers should focus on improving their ‘psychosocial safety climate’, which refers to how actively the business aims to prevent workplace bullying and support worker health and safety. It also encourages raising awareness of the effects of bullying, establishing psychological health as a company value, and training supervisors in effective people management skills.

Employers should review their bullying and harassment policies and training to ensure they are actively pursuing a bullying-free workplace and have established procedures to encourage victims to seek assistance. Inaction will not be enough to protect yourself and your business.

For more information on workplace bullying and harassment and what this means for you, clients should contact the HR Assured team. If you’d like more information about the benefits of becoming an HR Assured client contact us today for an informal chat.