Workplace bullying in Australia is common, manifests itself in different ways and has significant implications for organizations and their workers.
Workplace Bullying is a serious issue across Australian workplaces and a risk factor for anxiety, depression and even suicide. Workplace bullying does not just hurt those involved, the wider workplace also get effected through lost productivity, poor morale, increased absenteeism, and time spent documenting, pursuing or defending claims. It cost around 6 billion to 35 billion dollars each year to the Australian organizations. Beyondblue research shows that even we all think that bullying is an individual or interpersonal issue, it actually is a broader environmental factors- such as poor organizational culture and lack of leadership. From my point of view, the most effective way to stamp out workplace bullying is to stop it before it even can starts. We can achieve this by creating a strong, consistent approach to prevent inappropriate behaviour from escalating and have a positive, respectful work environment where bullying has zero tolerance. Before we go for any further details with this workplace bullying, we should first look at what actually is workplace bullying and what kind of behaviour marked as bullying.
So what is workplace bullying? We can say, workplace bullying is repeated and unreasonable behaviour acted towards an employee or group of employees which creates a risk to their mental health, job performance and safety. If we go in to more details about ‘repeated and unreasonable’ behaviour, we can clearly emphasis on that a single incident of unreasonable behaviour is not considered bullying but a certain kind of behaviour happens on regular basis. Bullying can happen in any type of workplace, and to people in any kind of role- from lower grade employees through to CEOs. Workplace bullying can happen in many different forms, from verbal or physical abuse through to online harassment. In some cases, workplace bullying go beyond the working environment- for example, through emails or texts sent outside work hours. To be more precise we can categorize bullying behaviours as such:
• Abusive, insulting or offensive language or comments.
• Unreasonable or unjustified criticism or complaints.
• Treating someone differently from others
• Withholding supervision, information, training or resources intentionally to prevent someone doing their job
• Setting unreasonable timelines or constantly changing deadlines
• Spreading misinformation or rumours
• Changing work arrangements, such as rosters and leave, to deliberately trouble someone
• Setting tasks that are unreasonably below or above someone’s skill level
• Humiliation, shouting or threatening someone
• Excluding someone from taking part in activities that relate to their work
• Teasing or playing practical joke
• Refusing leave and especially compassionate leave without any proper ground
• Playing mind games, ganging up or other psychological harassment
• Intimidation (making someone feel less important or undervalued).
Bullying is alarmingly increasing in organizations now a days and affecting financial as well as human resources. According to the ever demanding complexity of conducting business in a hyper competitive global marketplace, where a higher demand of workers performance is greatly needed, bullying behaviours need to be handled by management to prevent the proliferation of bullying acts in organizations. Bullying carries many risks with it, among them one is Health risk and another is reducing job performance.
The effects of workplace bullying don’t end when you leave the office. Being a victim of bullying can cause physical and psychological health problems, including:
• Panic attacks
• Trouble sleeping
• Higher blood pressure
The prevalence rates for bullying in Australian workplace
According to the fiscal year 2014/2015, the prevalence rates for bullying in Australian workplace is measured in different ways. In accordance to the definition of international bullying, that focus on power imbalance and repeated bullying behaviours, it is found that in the past six months 9.7 per cent Australian employees had experienced bullying. In accordance to the definition by “Safe Work Australia”, about 9.4 per cent of workers affected by bullying in their workplace in the past six months. Now, this has further broken into different categories such as 62.3 per cent of cases, majority bully was made by supervisor, and in 28 per cent of cases, the co-workers are responsible for bullying. A further respondents of 8.7 per cent responded that the bully was neither, and around one per cent stayed quite or chose not to say anything. Another study been found that approximately 12.2 per cent of respondents are being bullied daily, and at a minimum of 32.6 per cent are bullied once a week, 27.9 per cent are bullied once a month, rarely 26.8 per cent are bullied, and finally 0.5 per cent responded very rarely.
Trends of bullying in Australia
Bullying trends over time in Australia have risen significantly since 2009-2010. According to the data in Australia by AWB in the year of 2010 to 2011, the bullying was 7.0 per cent whereas on the other hand in the year of 2014 to 2015, the rate was 9.7 per cent. The Northern Territory experienced the highest ranking state or territory who had the record of bullying at 14.0 per cent. The lowest rate of bullying was found in South Australia which is 4.4 per cent. The other states such as Queensland, Tasmania, Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory had occurrence rates between 9 per cent and nearly 11 per cent. In consistent with the augmented national average, majority states and grounds found an increased rates of bullying in fiscal year 2014-2015 compare to previous measurements. Precisely, when comparing rates from the year of 2009, 2010, and 2011 to the year of 2014-15 investigation data, it was observed that Western Australia, Tasmania, New South Wales, and the Australian Capital Territory, each and every state experienced a rise in incidence. On the other side, although the highest prevalence rates are seen in the Northern Territory, a slight decline was observed since 2011. Also, the rate of South Australia have declined since 2011.
Bullying Affects Job Performance
Bullied workers can’t perform their jobs to the best of their ability. Performance issues include:
• Having trouble making decisions
• An incapacity to work or concentrate
• A loss of self-esteem
• Lower productivity
Bullying in the workplace can also have negative influence on the person’s personal life where the victim passes their aggression toward their family members that ends up in serious conflict in between parties at home. In such case, victim spend more time in the workplace to avoid such conflict that eventually brings negativity in their workplace.
It can clearly be said that bullying has a negative impact on the victim, which could be distressing. According to a Danish study, it can be said that “bullying had damaged their (the victim) personality and their mental and physical health” (Einarsen & Mikkelsen, 2003, p. 133). The victim lose their temper and confidence that heavily affect their performance in the organisation.
Bullying in workplace not only affects the victim but also it affects their co-workers. According to Nowegian study (Einarsen et al., 1994), “2,215 employees working in seven different occupational sectors, 21 per cent of the respondents (the victim) reported lowered job satisfaction due to bullying at work, and 27 per cent claimed that bullying reduced productivity in their department” (Einarsen & Mikkelsen, 2003, p. 136). Victims who are highly upset may behave inappropriate in their working place, and may break the norms in respect of personal interactions.
The day workers are bullied starts avoiding their working place, the first of the escaping methods employed by the worker of bullying is looking for a transfer. Eventually, the victim can distress organizational performance, because they transfer is very expensive in every country as it includes the replacement costs as well as further costs associated with training costs for two or more entities” (Cooper, et al., 2003, p. 153). As a consequence, the job that is vacated needs to be filled with staff, and also the transferred victim will require special training for his or her new role. It will rise the recruiting costs, and also the position which is being filled internally will also needs to be staffed.
Another consequence of bullying in the workplace may lead to absenteeism. Because of health issues as well as avoidance tactics can be credited to rude managers, consequentially, the employees may intend to call in sudden sick call at workplace, and even sometimes they take extensive sick leave based on either their health or in intend to avoid the berating individual all together. The company can suffer several consequences being caused by excess absenteeism. It not only is the efficiency of the inattentive employee lost but also, in accordance with Cooper, et al. (2003), “pressure is likely to mount on their co-workers with more people possibly reaching breaking point, with increased tension among co-workers as a result, possibly reducing productivity, and inflating sickness absence as well as turnover rates” p. 151 ). Just like turnover, absences has another consequence where the organisation create some hidden costs in addition to the obvious loss of productivity and sick pay for the inattentive employee. The company can also observe an “increased burden on attending staff can that can lead to rise in stress and future absences” (Howarth, 2005, p. 3), as well as “disruption to work can affect levels of efficiency and consumer service”.
Another impact of bullying is turnover that negatively effect on organizational performance that again relates to not only on avoidance techniques but also on health effects of abusive management. Also it is important to know that bullying which can directly or indirectly impacts on the worker’s intention to leave the job. This tendency to leave the job may be due to the bullying itself or the (predominately physical) symptoms suffered as a result of the bullying” (Casimir, et al., 2004, p. 488).
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