The finding from a groundbreaking Irish study, published today, also reveals that one in five people admit mistreating someone at work.
Workplace mistreatment includes negative acts such as bullying and harassment.
Bullying is repeated inappropriate behaviour that undermines an individuals’ right to respect and dignity at work.
Overall, 43% said they have experienced ill-treatment; 47% have witnessed it, and 17% said they perpetrated it, while 6% have experienced physical violence.
It also emerged that 37% said they have experienced unreasonable management; 42% have witnessed it, and 14% admitted they were responsible.
The study found that public sector employees are five times more likely to experience violence than employees in other sectors.
Women are significantly more likely to experience mistreatment on two or more occasions per day, with the perpetrator often being another woman.
The Irish Workplace Behaviour Survey, was carried out by researchers from NUI Galway, together with University of Limerick and Plymouth University in Britain. The study, based on the responses of 1,500 employees interviewed in their homes, was led by the Health Promotion Research Centre at NUI Galway.
Some workers feel reporting an issue would not help and could even worsen their situation. They believe middle managers are either unable to unwilling to act on complaints or that policies were too complicated.
The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health commisioned the study and its vice-president, Louise Hosking, said it is “alarming” that so many employees feel nothing would be done, even if they report an issue.
“Everyone has the right to be respected at work. Any form of ill-treatment is completely unacceptable.”
The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health is a professional body for people responsible for safety and health in the workplace. and has more than 46,000 members in more than 120 countries.