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March 30, 2022

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Bullying and incivility in the workplace

The key drivers of bullying and incivility at work

The CIPD has released an evidence review summarising research on the key drivers of bullying and incivility in the workplace, offering recommendations on how to best help employers maintain healthy relationships among staff.

stressThe CIPD’s review argues that, bullying and workplace incivility can be reduced by focusing on employees and their working lives in several ways, including:

  • Be aware of the stressors faced by staff – those who are overloaded in their role are likely to experience negative emotions, subsequently leading to displays of aggression and bullying.
  • Prioritise designing jobs in ways that ensure staff are clear about which actions they need to take to fulfil their role, and that the demands of their job are not so great that they cannot meet those expectations
  • Ensure staff feel a level of self-management and control over their working life by providing them with autonomy to decide how, when and where they work
  • Think about who in your workplace is reporting unprofessional and abusive behaviour, if it is mostly females who are raising issues, take steps to consider if there are inequality issues that need to be addressed, and what can be done to prevent inappropriate attitudes and poor conduct.

Leaders and HR professionals involved in selecting and developing those actions play a major role in reducing bullying and workplace incivility.

In particular, they should look to:

  • Prioritise values and attitudes when recruiting or promoting managers
  • Understand the stressors of your managers and highlight the importance of healthy, fair relationships throughout the organisation to lessen the risk of them feeling overworked in their role.

Organisation-wide factors, such as shared expectations and agreed social norms, are an important influence on the likelihood of bullying and workplace incivility.

To mitigate the impact of this, organisations should aim to:

  • Develop understanding of the components and dynamics of fairness. Insights into this come from psychology and other research insights, but also from collecting organisational and personal accounts from your workforce
  • Build a relevant, contextualised approach to how colleagues throughout the organisation should be treated fairly and communicate these insights widely.

Interventions aimed at reducing incivility are explored less than influences, therefore the CIPD recommend businesses prioritise prevention over cure, focusing on the root cause of incivility at work.

Nonetheless, employers should focus on what makers interventions so effective. Employers should:

  • Ensure staff feel confident and prepared in approaching workplace incivility should it occur, by providing them with the capability and resources needed to do so
  • Involve interventions wide-ranging, so they target both individual development and organisational processes.

The CIPD’s full recommendations can be found, here.

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Nigel Dupree
Nigel Dupree
2 years ago

Induced Work Stress, Fatigue, Irascibility or Just Borderline Personality Disorder ? What about the known knowns, the far from “reasonably foreseeable” when actually has been predictable that 58% plus prior to HSE RR 561 2007 that concluded that the 1993 UK DSE Reg’s were effectively ineffective as, it did not include what it “said on the tin” the ergonomics of the DSE just the furniture, seat and/or workstation – hahah Nearly 30 years later regardless of the 1998 PUWER Act or following revision to 1995 DDA in 2010 Equality Act or the following year retrospective Appeal Court findings in 2011… Read more »