Poor management leaves bullying at work unchecked

Bullying in the workplace is still too high and employers stand accused of failing to tackle the issue effectively, according to a report published to coincide with Ban Bullying at Work Day (7 November).

The Bullying at work: the experience of managers study, published by the Chartered Management Institute, suggests that poor management skills lie at the heart of the problem, which is estimated to cost the UK economy £13.75bn a year.

However, the study also showed that employers are beginning to understand the need to take a stand against bullying behaviour. In 2005, just 55% of organisations had a formal bullying policy – but this has risen to 74% this year.

The report is based on the views of 867 managers and executives across the public, private and voluntary sectors. Key findings include:

  • 70% of managers claimed to have witnessed instances of bullying in the past three years
  • two-thirds observed bullying between peers and 30% witnessed subordinates bullying their managers
  • of those who were bullyied, almost four in 10 reported that no action was taken by their organisation.

Asked to identify the root causes of bullying at work the most frquent answer given was a ‘lack of management skills’ (70%) – up from 66% in 2005 when the survey was last carried out.

Respondents also cited authoritarian management styles (48%) as a critical factor.

Jo Causon, director for marketing and corporate affairs at the CMI, said: “In the current economic climate the pressure to deliver is more acute than ever, but the need to perform should not be seen as an excuse to bully.”

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