Bullying – the hidden costs

25 February 2015
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Most incidents of bullying are not put on the record. Employees may fear the consequence of reporting a supervisor or manager. Colleagues may be reluctant to come forward as witnesses as they fear the consequences for themselves.

In a recent workplace investigation into a serious incident 15 employees were interviewed; 5 reported being subjected to bullying and abusive behaviour; 5 reported witnessing abusive behaviour in the past 12 months. The investigation uncovered a culture which was characterised by low productivity, lack of co-operation, lack of respect for individuals and frequent abusive behaviour.

The anxiety and stress caused by bullying and abusive behaviour may have significant consequences for your business:

  • Low morale
  • Damaged working relationships
  • Poor productivity
  • High absenteeism due to ’work related stress’
  • High staff turnover
  • Risk of Employment Tribunal claims

Comply with Health & Safety legislation

Employers have legal obligations under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. Managers and senior staff have a responsibility to protect employees and promote a healthy working environment where an individual’s contribution is valued and their dignity is respected.

Employees have a duty to their colleagues not to engage in conduct or behaviour which could be considered offensive by other employees and to co-operate with the policies and procedures to prevent bullying.

What should employers do?

  • Publish a ‘Dignity at Work’ Policy to emphasise the commitment to promoting respect for one and other and taking responsibility for your behaviour.
  • Monitor complaints – ensure that employees are aware of how to make a complaint
  • Investigate incidents – take complaints seriously, carry out an objective investigation and ensure a balanced response to the complaint.

Vincent Turley