Two million people, many of them managers, bullied at work

Nov 07 2005 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Some two million people have been bullied at work in the past six months, latest figures have suggested – many of them managers and many of them by their managers.

The study has been published by the TUC to coincide with today's Ban Bullying at Work Day.

The union body is calling on the Government to change the law to prevent millions more workers becoming new victims of the UK's office bullies.

The day is being organised by the anti-bullying charity the Andrea Adams Trust.

Bullying and the inability of most employers to deal with the growing problem accounts for the loss of some 18 million working days each year, the TUC calculated.

The victims of bullying often have their confidence undermined to such an extent that they no longer feel able to do their jobs, many feel they have no option but to go off sick, while others are forced to find alternative employment.

A separate TUC survey of more than 5,000 employees has revealed that in three quarters of bullying incidents, the perpetrator has been a manager or supervisor.

But managers themselves are often bullied in turn by their bosses. A Unison/Acas survey found that almost half of middle managers have fallen victim at some point, echoing research by the Chartered Management Institute earlier this autumn.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "These figures suggest that there can be few workplaces in the UK without a resident bully.

"But although bullying can destroy lives and have a damaging effect upon workplace morale, the overwhelming majority of employers seem unable to stop bullies in their tracks," he added.

Despite this, employers are urging caution. A study of HR managers by trade magazine Personnel Today, in association with the Andrea Adams Trust, last week reported that levels of bullying are falling in the UK, albeit gradually.

It found seven out of 10 HR professionals had witnessed or were aware of bullying in their organisation, down from 87 per cent in 2004 and 93 per cent in 1999.

Almost half of all respondents believed incidents of bullying had either fallen or remained the same over the past year.

The TUC's Barber urged employers to tackle bullying just as they would treat any other workplace hazard.

"All workplaces, whatever their size, should have a policy which states that harassment and intimidation is unacceptable and that those who delight in the victimisation of others will be treated severely," he said.

"The victims of bullying need to be listened to and supported, not dismissed as workplace wimps," he concluded.