By now, everyone knows about Covid-19 and how it’s affecting working life. But is there evidence that another, more stealthy, epidemic is taking root in UK workplaces? Barely a day goes by without another media story about bullying and harassment at work. Most of our institutions are showing the symptoms. The House of Commons, the Home Office, the NHS, major charities, our universities and colleges have all recently experienced cases of bullying or harassment that have attracted significant media interest.
Surveys suggest that up to 40% of people at work have experienced or seen bullying and 70% of the cases involve bullying by managers or supervisors. The patterns are all too familiar. People abusing their power and position, impatience for change in organisations, staff under extraordinary pressures of work and widespread job insecurity seem to be fuelling an increase in bad behaviour at work. And there is often a driven and charismatic leader at the centre of the worst cases. The old saying that people don’t leave jobs, they leave their manager suggests that bullies continue to drive people away from organisations that don’t take the issues of bullying and harassment seriously enough. Losing your staff is bad enough, but the damage to your reputation can also be significant.
If you lead an organisation, it should be a key part of your role to create an environment in which your people feel free to get on with their jobs without the fear of being bullied or harassed. This will mean you have to create policies to explain your approach to protecting staff. You also need to build procedures that allow issues to be raised and properly investigated. And it means you have to make sure those policies and procedures actually work on the ground. If your people are afraid to speak up when they are badly treated, then it’s not working. If they speak up and their issues are ignored, it’s not working. And if you let bullies and harassers get away with bad behaviour, it’s obviously not working.
At Verita we have a great deal of experience in investigating these issues and helping organisations address them. We can help you to use effective diagnosis tools to assess if your organisation has problems in this area. We can investigate the most serious cases for you, especially if they involve senior people. And we can help you implement appropriate plans to allow your organisation to get ahead of these issues before you become the next story. See what we do at www.verita.net