Employers Can’t Turn A Blind Eye To Bullying

Published July 12, 2019 (last updated July 20, 2020) -

Workplace bullying is a serious health and wellbeing issue and employers are being urged to ensure they are taking adequate steps to prevent it in their workplaces.

The call comes after new data published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence surveying 3000 healthcare sector workers found that 20% had been victims of workplace mobbing, with the majority suffering the abuse for longer than a year.

The research echoes data from Employsure’s State of Work report, which found that 1 in 3 employees in Australian businesses had experienced bullying. The issue is also a significant drain on the Australian economy, costing between $17 billion and $36 billion each year in lost productivity and claims.

Related: Workplace Bullying Explained

Employsure’s Team Leader of Advice Services Michael Wilkinson said bullying was prevalent in Australian workplaces, and that it took many forms.

“Common forms include aggression, teasing and humiliation, but there are more subtle forms such as exclusion or consistently rostering staff at times that are known to be inconvenient for them,” he said. “It can be physical or psychological, and is a serious health issue that impacts business growth, and can affect the mental and physical health of employees.

“Bullying is considered a form of harassment, and employers can be liable if they don’t take adequate steps to mitigate it. It’s really important to have a policy that you can enforce, but also have the skills to recognise it in your workplace and take appropriate action.”

Wilkinson also pointed out that reasonable and fair performance management should not be classified as bullying.

It is acceptable for manager to allocate work and give fair feedback on an employee’s performance,” he added. “This often means following fair process, respecting confidentiality and giving the training people need to perform their jobs well.”

Related: Bullying vs Reasonable Management Action

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