by Meaghan Spencer, NRA Legal Workplace Advisor
Results from a study conducted by Australian Workplace Barometer Project have revealed that bullying is prevalent and on the rise in workplaces across Australia.
A worker is bullied at work if an individual or a group of individuals repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards the worker, or a group of workers of which the worker is a member; and that behaviour creates a risk to health and safety.
According to the Bullying & Harassment in Australian Workplaces: Results from the Australian Workplace Barometer Project 2014/15, workplace bullying increased by 40 per cent (from 7 per cent to 9.6 per cent) from 2009-2011, making Australia the 6th highest country where workplace bullying is prevalent, compared to 36 European countries.
Participants in the study were randomly selected across all Australian states and territories. Of the participants who reported that they had been bullied in the workplace, approximately 32.6 per cent were allegedly bullied at least once per week.
The types of harassment
Of all types of harassment measured in the study, the most common types were:
- Being sworn or yelled at;
- Being humiliated in front of other workers; and
- Being physically assaulted/threatened.
The report showed that women were more likely than men to experience bullying, unwanted sexual advances, being physically assaulted and to experience unfair treatment due to their gender. Men were more likely to have experienced being yelled or sworn at in the workplace.
What businesses can do
The study suggested that workplaces can do much more to help alleviate the issue, stating:
“Since supervisors are most commonly perceived as the source of bullying behaviours, efforts should be made to provide education and training…particularly in relation to managing the performance of employees,… establishing worker psychological health as a core business value,… establishing systems to enable upwards and downwards communication about bullying and harassment,… [and] changing work conditions that predispose bullying such as high demand, high pressure, high competition and low control/power situations”.
It is imperative that employers exercise their duty of care in the workplace by implementing stringent bullying and harassment policies and training all employees on their rights and responsibilities.
Failure to do so can lead to employees experiencing psychological harm and to organisations experiencing lower retention rates, higher staff recruitment and training costs, unexpected legal cases, negative effects on organisational processes, and ultimately can impact turnover.
Need help with your workplace policies? Members can receive both a Bullying & Harassment Policy and a Drug & Alcohol Policy all for the price of $750 + GST until 31 December 2016. If you would like to discuss this offer further, please email us at [email protected] or call one of our advisors on 1800 RETAIL (1800 738 245).