Join us to End Workplace Bullying
After finding that two in five people experience workplace bullying and/or harassment at work, with 62.5% choosing not to report it, we wanted to raise awareness and advocate against this toxic behaviour.
That’s why today we’re launching End Workplace Bullying Day to encourage HR teams and employers to look closely at their workplaces and how they can protect and support employees.
From our nationally representative survey of 2,135 people, we found:
- Almost one in two people believe that their workplace tolerates discriminatory banter at least some of the time (45%)
- One in 12 people admit that their workplace “often tolerates discriminatory banter” such as stereotypes, slurs or commentary relating to race, gender, sex, sexual orientation, age, image-based commentary, and inappropriate ‘jokes.’
- One-third more women experience bullying and/or harassment from a co-worker or supervisor than men.
- 33% of people wouldn't recommend a job at their organisation
We also found that the most common reason for not reporting this type of behaviour is that the person believed nothing would be done. This was closely followed by a “lack of confidence in the reporting process” and “a fear of retaliation.”
Tina Chander, Head of Employment Law at Wright Hassall, says: “These findings are extremely worrying.
“HR teams across the UK must make their workplaces safer. Otherwise, they risk high levels of sickness absence, a stressed and anxious workforce, losing talent, gaining a bad reputation and even, in some cases, an employment tribunal, which can be costly in more than one way.
“With one in three people saying they wouldn’t recommend a job at their workplace, evidently something needs to be done to strike out unwanted and intolerant behaviour.
“Training is part of the solution. But organisations need to do more to cultivate a culture and have set processes that are widely understood if someone is experiencing bullying and/or harassment.
“If employers and HR teams can rally round and focus on what they can put in place to rule out toxic behaviour like bullying and harassment and remain consistent, we should start to see safer and happier workplaces, which will benefit everyone.
“It’s not about shaming workplaces. It’s about shining the light on toxic behaviour and understanding that more can always be done to cultivate a better, safer workplace for all.”
As part of the campaign, we are asking workplaces to join the conversation and make time in their diaries for anti-bullying training and to take meetings based on any bullying claims.
And we’re also focusing internally too. We’re relaunching our Dignity at Work policy internally, which incorporates our approach to bullying and harassment and introducing mandatory training for all employees in this area to raise awareness and emphasise the support for our people if they experience or witness it.
Join us on social media using the #EndWorkplaceBullying
What are we hoping to achieve from this campaign?
We want to encourage HR teams and employers to clear their diaries for the day and look at ways they can support employees in coming forward if they have experienced bullying and/or harassment.
We want this day to remind workplaces to refresh or implement policies, procedures and training to help them rule out toxic behaviour.
We recognise it’s a process. But with small steps, change can be achieved.
Why are we launching this campaign in October?
October is one of the most popular times for employers hiring new talent. If employers want to retain new starters and existing employees, they must act quickly to make the necessary changes to rule out toxic behaviour.
Why do more people report bullying for others over themselves?
The findings told us that the most common reason for not reporting this behaviour is that the person believes nothing would be done, closely followed by a “lack of confidence in the reporting process” and “a fear of retaliation.” With this in mind, we can see that victims just don’t feel safe reporting and would feel much safer if it happened to someone else. More needs to be done to close this gap.
Why do more women experience bullying than their male colleagues?
It will come as no surprise that the majority of women have experienced bullying and/or harassment at work, but it’s hugely upsetting to have it confirmed in the hard numbers. We all need to take a step back and ask ourselves why we assume this and then continue to treat it as if the status quo is okay. Clearly, we have deep-rooted issues that need to be addressed.
Employers should ask themselves:
- Why are women more exposed to bullying and harassment?
- Are there cultural issues that need dealing with?
- Is it because women are underrepresented?
- Is it because more males are in senior positions?
- Is it because employees have received no training on unacceptable behaviours, company expectations, bullying, harassment and discrimination?
What can a workplace do to stop workplace bullying?
To actively encourage employees to speak honestly about such incidents, employers must ensure that they have provided adequate training to their managers to assist them in identifying and dealing with such behaviour; and have up-to-date policies on bullying and harassment.
It’s a win-win for employers: if they are seen to take reports of bullying and/or harassment seriously, this is likely to improve their employees’ confidence in reporting any issues they have experienced themselves.
As such behaviour is often displayed by a select few individuals within an organisation, a small number of reports can significantly improve workforce morale and the workplace environment.
What does the law say about workplace bullying and discrimination?
Put simply; discrimination is unlawful. If you are being bullied and harassed because of protected characteristics such as race, gender, age or sexual orientation, it can lead to claims of discrimination. Bullying and harassment can also be the sole reason an employee feels forced to resign resulting in a claim of constructive unfair dismissal.
If you are an employer and receive reports from employees alleging any such behaviour, it’s not something that can be swept under the rug, and it must be taken very seriously indeed and dealt with as a grievance.
Failure to do so under the ACAS Code of Conduct for Grievances and Disciplinaries means that any award made by the Employment Tribunal may be uplifted by up to 25%. Not only can this be a financially crippling experience, but it can also severely damage your business's reputation.
What can an employee do if they are being bullied and/or harassed at work?
If you are feeling bullied at work, you can do several things to protect yourself, including:
- Document what’s happening, dates, times, locations, people involved, and descriptions. This will help if you need to escalate the issue.
- Speak to your manager or HR team. They should take the appropriate action to address it.
- Prioritise self-care. It’s essential to speak with friends and family and get extra support from professional services or charities if needed.
- Speak with an employment lawyer. If the bullying hasn’t stopped or you don’t feel safe speaking with HR, seek an employment law expert who can give you tailored advice.
Click here to read a letter from our Managing Partner, Phil Wilding, about the changes he has made to the business and about how he has worked to get the right people and tools in place to overcome the challenges we had previously faced around unacceptable behaviour.