The Australian Health Works research involved interviews with more than 325 occupational health and safety (OH&S) experts working in companies around the country. A massive 85% reported incidents of bullying in their place of work.Health Works CEO Ken Buckley said people who were bullied in the workplace could suffer a range of associated health problems such as severe stress, anxiety, panic attacks, sleep disturbance, depression, concentration difficulties and raised blood pressure.Indeed, 56% of OH&S experts taking part in the Health Works study reported staff taking sick leave as a direct result of being bullied. Mr Buckley estimates that up to half of all Australian workers will experience some type of bullying in their working lives. However, only 47% of the companies employing the OH&S experts surveyed had a written anti-bullying policy.

The most common methods employed by bullies according to those surveyed include:

Intimidation (60%), Humiliation (48%), Ridicule (42%), Insults (39%),Offensive language (24%), Degrading someone (24%).

Other forms of bullying reported included stand over tactics, gossiping, being left out of events or excluded from luncheons and having leave requests refused.

Mr Buckley said combating bullying requires clear communication and decisive

steps. He recommends:

    • Approaching the bully and asking them to stop.
    • Keep a diary of events. Record the incidents in as much detail as possible and include the names and addresses of people willing to support your claim as bullying can often be difficult to prove.
    • If approaching the bully fails, report the behaviour to management or human resources. Hopefully your employer has a written policy on bullying.
    • You might also consider reporting the incident/s to a union representative to check your legal entitlements. If you don’t have a union rep, contact the Department of Industrial Relations or Law Society in your state or territory.

 

Health Works publish a booklet, Communication at Work, that covers effective communicate with colleagues, how to resolve conflict in the workplace and how to handle a bully. You can access the booklet by visiting the Health Works web site using the link above.Having trouble with an overbearing boss? Read How up to stand up to the

bully boss.

Story by Kate Southam, editor of CareerOne. Go to www.careerone.com.au for more career related articles. Job hunting and workplace questions can be directed to CareerOne by emailing: editor@careerone.com.au