Office bullying leads to post-traumatic stress symptoms, mental health issues, poor job performance, emotional exhaustion, low productivity, high staff turnover, and even suicide risks.
A workplace led by a bad manager can increase the risk of office bullying and negatively affect employees’ mental health, a new study in Australia revealed.
Office bullying is a global problem. One in 10 employees is affected by this around the world, costing employers billions of dollars annually due to absenteeism, stress and lost productivity.
To encourage organisations to address this issue, a team of researchers from the University of South Australia developed an evidence-based screening tool that detects nine major risk areas for office bullying that are entrenched in a workplace’s daily practices.
Published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, the study analysed 342 real-life office bullying complaints filed with SafeWork SA, in which 60% were from female workers. The highest number of grievances came from retail, health and community services, and property and business. All the complaints showed the risk areas for office bullying.
Professor Michelle Tuckey, one of the researchers of the study, explained that office bullying primarily shows up in people management. Factors such as managing work performance, coordinating entitlements and working hours, and forming workplace relationships are essential areas that companies must focus on.
While office bullying may seem like a behavioural issue between two individuals, it also reflects the structural risks in the companies themselves, Tuckey said.
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Office bullying impacts employees’ mental health as well as the state of the company itself. It leads to post-traumatic stress symptoms, mental health issues, poor job performance, emotional exhaustion, low productivity, high staff turnover, and even suicide risks.
Current measures such as anti-bullying policies, incident reporting, bullying awareness training, and investigating complaints may be focused more on behaviour between individuals rather than workplace structures.
Tuckey, however, urged companies to proactively evaluate and mitigate underlying risk factors.