Calls for employers to take bullying and harassment in the workplace seriously

In line with this year’s Anti-Bullying Week, which falls between the 16th-20th November, to encourage companies across the UK to take a preventative approach to tackling problematic behaviour in the workplace, we have released a series of insights uncovered by our recent ‘maintaining workplace culture in a rapidly changing environment’ research.

Honing in on how the UK’s workforce really feels about tackling problematic behaviour in the workplace, the research revealed that almost all (91%) of employees across the UK say that knowing their employer takes bullying and harassment complaints seriously is an important factor to their overall happiness at work. Furthermore, one-quarter (25%) say their employer could improve its culture and be more inclusive by providing a platform to speak out about bullying and harassment. 

The research also found that 37% of the UK’s workforce feel more likely to experience something they would describe as bullying or harassment in the workplace, compared to just 26% who feel more likely to bear the brunt of such behaviour while working from home. 

It’s clear that bullying and harassment is prevalent in many workplaces and employers need to do more to tackle the problem. Many employees are calling for their employers to put a platform in place in which individuals can provide anonymous feedback or report any instances of bullying and harassment, and this kind of insight must be acted on by employers if they want to attract and retain talent.

If incidents of problematic behaviour are left unchecked in a workplace, it can lead to significant cultural issues that will get worse over time. It can lead to people feeling unhappy which in turn can create high rates of absence or presenteeism, low productivity and high turnover of staff.

On bullying and harassment in the workplace, the research also uncovered that:

  • 34% feel anxious about seeing somebody they have a negative relationship with when they go back to the workplace 
  • 30% of employees believe their employer could improve its culture and be more inclusive by providing a place to give anonymous feedback 
  • 27% are more likely to report an incident now they’re working from home, compared to 41% of employees from BAME backgrounds and 38% of employees with varying abilities
  • 22% have experienced unacceptable behaviour in their workplace
  • 20% have witnessed unacceptable behaviour in their workplace
  • 15% would report an incident to their line manager but would feel worried about the repercussions
  • 13% know somebody else that something serious has happened to in the workplace
  • 12% of employees say they have experienced serious bullying and harassment in the workplace
  • 11% would report an incident, but only if they could do so anonymously

By providing clear and safe reporting pathways, organisations can encourage a speak up culture. Employers should not only signpost to these platforms, but actively encourage employees to use them, with those that do speak out against bullying encouraged and supported for doing so, rather than perpetuating any stigma. 

Taking a proactive and preventative approach to tackling negative and harmful behaviours, will in turn help protect company culture and employee wellbeing.

To see more insights uncovered by the research or to download the full ‘maintaining workplace culture in a rapidly changing environment’ report, click here

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