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June 16, 2011

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Job-security worries lead bullied workers to suffer in silence

One in four workers says that staff cutbacks have led to more bullying in the workplace, but more than half of those bullied are too scared to raise the issue with management for fear of losing their job.

The findings of a survey of more than 6000 public-sector workers, carried out in May by the Centre for Organisation Research and Development (CORD), also reveal that one in three employees is being bullied at work across the UK, while six out of ten workers have been bullied, or witnessed bullying, over the past six months.

Unison, which commissioned the survey, believes the situation is likely to get worse, with workers’ health suffering as a result. The union’s general secretary, Dave Prentis, said: “The survey shows that in the last six months the Government’s cuts agenda is hitting people hard. We fear that bullying will only continue to rise as the cuts bite further, leading to long-term mental and physical health problems.

“Staff will be unable to carry out their jobs and will be pushed into taking sickness absence, so it makes economic sense for employers to clamp down hard on the bullies.”

The most common forms of bulling were rude and disrespectful behaviour, being set unrealistic targets, isolation or exclusion, excessive work monitoring and criticism, withholding information, and intimidation. Workers on the receiving end were most likely to feel anger, reduced motivation, anxiety or mental stress, powerlessness and isolation.

Looking at what action bullied workers had taken, just 23 per cent have considered legal action, while 58 per cent said they have considered leaving their jobs. However, 53 per cent have considered staying in their job and putting up with the bullying – a significant increase on the 25 per cent who gave a similar response to Unison’s survey of two years ago.

More than a quarter of workers (27 per cent) said their manager has been tougher on them since the cuts set in, and the same percentage confirmed they had seen, or experienced more bullying since the cuts.

Commented Prentis: “This survey goes a long way to dispel the myth the Government is currently peddling that there is no need for health and safety legislation. We need legislation to put a stop to millions of workers suffering in silence. The Government must rethink its savage cuts agenda, or see workers’ health and efficiency deteriorate.”

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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12 years ago

This is a great article, that really highlights the issues, that workers face. Alot of employees when giving surveys in a company wont give the real reasons they feel stressed because they fear their manager will fire them if they find out. There needs to be a rethink on employee rights and work practices that benefit both the manager and the employee. When people work together then things can work out, when your being dictated too, and forced to work harder it’s hardly suprising stress occurs.