62% of staff bullied or intimidated but ‘too scared to report’

Six out of 10 employees have been bullied at work but most are too frightened to report it, it has emerged.

More than 40% claimed to have been bullied by their manager, according to research conducted by employment law consultancy, Peninsula Ireland.

A survey conducted among 524 employees over the last three months revealed: 62% felt bullied or intimidated in the workplace; 43% claimed to have been bullied by their manager; and 67% were too frightened to report the bullying.

Bullying can take many different forms and may include social exclusion and isolation; damaging someone’s reputation by gossip or rumours; intimidation; aggressive or obscene language; and repeated requests with impossible tasks or targets.

In many European countries, the term “mobbing” is used instead of bullying to describe this type of hostile behaviour in the workplace.

Alan Price, Peninsula Ireland’s managing director, said bullying should not be tolerated by either the employee or employer. He said the research showed many employees suffered in silence, were not likely to come forward, and were not sure who to turn to.

“The actions of a bully may sometimes be ignored due to their position within the organisation, especially if it seems the person is indispensable, they are allowed to get away with their behaviour.”

Mr Price said employers could be unaware of the bullying, especially when the accused was a line manager. He said bosses should make themselves fully aware of any bullying incidents and put a stop to it: “They should encourage an open door policy and provide staff with someone to talk to if they feel they are being victimised.”

Founder and director of Bully4u, Jim Harding, said that over the last few years, more people had become afraid of losing their jobs with the downturn in the economy.

“It is very difficult to prove bullying and, in a lot of cases, what happens is that the victims move on,” he said.

*www.hse.ie.

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