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A week in training: Beat the bullies


news This week: Studies paint a worrying picture of bullying in the workplace. The almost 50% of workers claim to be, or have been, bullied, while managers and organisations seem largely ineffective in dealing with it. Elsewhere, the government pledges yet more money for skills and MEPs vote against the UK's EU working time directive opt out.

Bullies at work

A staggering nine in 20 workers have been bullied at work according to a survey by The Andrea Adams Trust charity. According to the survey, to mark National Ban Bullying at Work Day today – 7 November - 47.8% of respondents stated that when they made a formal complaint procedures were not followed correctly. Government figures estimate that workplace bullying costs the UK economy £13.75 billion, with 100 million days productivity lost, per year.

The Andrea Adams report reveals that this isn't just a case of managers bullying subordinates, as just under half of respondents stating that they were being bullied by their superior. This point was reflected in a study by the Chartered Management Institute, which found that 63% of respondents had seen bullying between peers and 30% saw subordinates bullying their manager.

‘Bullying at work: the experience of managers’ found 70% of managers claimed to have witnessed instances of bullying in the past three years. Of those experiencing bullying, 38% said no action was taken by their organisation. Almost two-thirds of respondents were concerned about their employer's inability to deal with the problem.

However, there was some good news, with signs that employers are beginning to understand the need to take a stand against bullying behaviour. In 2005 just 55% of organisations had a formal bullying policy – a figure that has risen to 74%, this year. Where policies exist, 65% say their organisation deters bullying well (compared to just 44% of those with no policy).

Asked what makes a policy effective, 82% of managers said ‘training from the point of induction’. A similar proportion (80%) focused on the need to define bullying and 45 per cent favoured awareness training.

Full results of the Andrea Adams report and a fact sheet on bullying at work can be downloaded here.

Free elearning courses

Elearning provider SkillSoft is offering complimentary access to three courses designed to help employees tackle workplace bullying, harassment and aggression. Each course contains three to four hours of instruction if completed in one session, although people typically opt to just dip in and out to find the information they need. To access the complimentary courses – which are being made available for a year from November 2008 to November 2009 - visit

Legal advice

Meanwhile, Which? Legal Service is offering practical advice for people being bullied at work:
1. Approach the person directly: It may be possible to resolve the issue informally by speaking directly to the person you feel is bullying you. This may work where that person is genuinely unaware of the effect that their conduct is having.
2. Speak to your manager: If this isn’t appropriate, consider approaching the person at the next level above the bully; they may be able to deal with the situation by speaking to that person.
3. Seek advice from your trade union: If you are a trade union member, you can seek the help, advice and support of your union representative.
4. Put your grievance in writing: Failing these, enter a written grievance. The employer will be under a duty to investigate this, and may be able to take steps to end the conduct.
5. Consider legal action: If the grievance process is exhausted but you are not happy with the outcome, you may need to consider legal action. Take legal advice first and beware, there are strict time-limit for taking action in an Employment Tribunal, usually three months from the date of the act.

The skills to serve

Sainsbury's has become the latest organisation to offer in-house qualifications to its staff, the BBC reports. The supermarket has teamed up with awarding body EDI to offer vocational courses in stock taking and store working to alongside basic Maths and literacy skills courses via elearning.

EU cash for skills

Following on from recent announcements of investment in skills, this week saw the unveiling of a further £27m for skills in England. The cash is aimed at regional projects to develop ways of boosting people's employment opportunities. The money will come from the European Social Fund and all projects will run in conjunction with at least one partner from another EU member state. More information is available at

UK opt-out in doubt after EU vote

Staying with Europe, Members of the European Parliament voted to axe the UK's opt-out clause from the Working Time Directive. The change would affect an estimated three million workers who currently choose to work more than 48 hours a week. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development opposes the change, maintaining that the decision on working hours should be left to employers and employees. Employers organisation the CBI has also lobbied against scrapping the opt-out.


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