The fact bullying is on the decline is testament to HR’s efforts in trying to stamp this problem out.
Our exclusive survey, carried out in association with the anti-bullying charity The Andrea Adams Trust, says that visible cases of bullying have fallen to 70%, compared with 87% a year ago. Yes, the pace of change is slow, but at least it’s moving in the right direction. But 70% is still a shockingly high figure that proves there is still so much to do.
Many HR departments (59%) have put policies and procedures in place, which they believe are effective in tackling incidents of bullying inthe workplace.
But the real problem is that the victims are not standing up to the perpetrators. People who get picked on, left out or unfairly criticised generally don’t confront their bullies. They tend to go off on sick leave – they feel stressed and anxious, and this affects their work.
Even worse, more than half start looking for a new job. Organisational cultures that allow bullying to thrive are just letting their talent walk out the door. What use is a policy when this happens?
What comes through loud and clear in our survey is that the only way to tackle bullying is for top management to take a stand against it.What perpetuates the problem is the refusal of bosses to even acknowledge that the problem exists.
Yet there is a mounting business case for actively tackling this issue, as highlighted by the Amicus union’s new ‘Dignity at Work’ anti-bullying campaign. The problem costs £1.3bn a year in lost productivity, absence, and the cost of replacing people who leave.
And while no specific anti-bullying legislation is in place, legal precedents have been set this year that could prompt other victims of bullying to seek resolution in the courts. When bosses wake up to what it is costing them, perhaps they will realise it is a serious problem they can no longer afford to ignore.