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Office workers report rise in bullying behaviour

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Employers have been alerted to a somewhat worrying trend within the workplace – a perceived rise in incidences of bullying.

According to research conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of CareerBuilder, the number of office workers encountering bullies at work is on the rise.

Of those surveyed, 36 per cent said they had felt threatened or intimidated at work, up from 27 per cent in 2011.

Some 16 per cent said they had suffered health-related problems as a result of bullying and 17 per cent decided to quit their jobs to escape the situation.

The study also found nearly half of workers fail to confront their bullies and the majority of incidents go unreported.

Among those employees who felt they had been bullied at work, 48 per cent pointed to incidents with their bosses, 45 per cent with their colleagues and 31 per cent with customers.

Some 26 per cent of perceived victims said they had experienced problems with someone higher up in the company than their own boss.

More than half (54 per cent) of those bullied said they had been picked on by an older person, while 29 per cent said the perpetrator was younger and 17 per cent a similar age.

The most common type of malicious behaviour was employees being falsely accused of making mistakes (42 per cent), followed by being ignored (39 per cent), treated differently to other workers (36 per cent), and constantly criticised (33 per cent).

Some 31 per cent said they had been adversely affected by a colleague failing to do their own job properly, while 28 per cent had been yelled at in front of co-workers.

Of those interviewed, 26 per cent said they had been faced with belittling comments about their work during meetings, while 26 per cent had been gossiped about and 19 per cent had seen someone else take credit for their achievements.

“How workers define bullying can vary considerably, but it is often tied to patterns of unfair treatment, said Rosemary Haefner, vice-president of human resources at CareerBuilder.

“Bullying can have a significant impact on both individual and company performance. It’s important to cite specific incidents when addressing the situation with the bully or a company authority and keep focused on finding a resolution.”