Bullying and harassment – an epidemic without a vaccine

With a colleague, I have been doing some work looking at all the allegations of bullying and harassment that have been in the press.

I am beginning to feel a little overwhelmed.

It seems that almost everywhere you look there appear to be allegations of bullying – charities, lawyers, accountants – even a senior diversity and inclusion chief. That is without getting into the allegations bouncing around in the Royal Family.

A big question, of course, is how much this is as a result of increased levels of reporting (a good thing) and how much of more bullying (clearly, a bad thing).

The answer is almost certainly a bit of both, together with organisations being more aware of the need to do something about allegations – to tackle them at source, rather than brush them under the carpet.

There is no doubt that there is a lot of bullying about too. A report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development published last year (‘Managing conflict in the modern workplace‘) found that 15% of employees reported having experienced bullying at work over the last three years, and 8% harassment.

As well as being massively damaging to the individuals who suffer it, the cost of bullying and harassment can be large for organisations. A study published in the BMJ estimates the annual cost to the NHS alone to be over £2bn. And being labelled a bully is a very damaging accusation for the individual concerned, which could have big implications for their future career.

Getting to the bottom of exactly happened is therefore vital – and an essential building block for a response that is both appropriate to the events and also effective in moving the organisation forward.  At Verita we have carried out a number of investigations to do exactly that. Some have been large, but some small and completed in a few weeks.  What stands out, however, is the importance of organisations tackling allegations before they turn up in the pages of the newspapers.

For more information please call Verita Consultancy Limited on 020 7494 5670 or email [email protected].


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