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Work Bullies ‘Get Away With It’


Bullies in UK offices are using a range of subtle tactics and behaviour to intimidate colleagues at work, according to research released to coincide with "Ban Bulling at Work Day" today.

A survey by the Chartered Management Institute suggests that bullies' ability to torment is enhanced by increased levels of organisational change and ineffective action by employers.

It coincides with research from the TUC identifying a rise in bullying at work.

According to the TUC, 15% of union safety reps questioned said bullying was a major problem in their workplace, compared to 12% two years ago and 10% in 2002.

Asked about behaviour witnessed in the workplace, respondents to the Institute study identified eleven types of intimidation. The top forms included:

* Power play: misuse of power or position was cited by 70%. Respondents claimed they were also aware of overbearing supervision (63%) and undermining by overloading and criticism (68%).

* Career closure: 47% knew of incidents where opportunities for promotion or training were blocked, 43% also suggested they had seen threats made about job security.

* Word of mouth: 69% heard verbal insults aimed at specific individuals and 53% identified spreading of malicious rumours as a key tactic used by bullies.

As with the TUC survey, almost two-thirds of Chartered Management Institute respondents felt that workplace bullying is increasingly common across the UK. With 36% blaming their organisation for being ineffective at deterring bullying.

A staggering 71% of managers admitted to spending one day or less dealing with the problem.

Additional research from the Institute suggests that the extent of organisational change is a factor in bullying behaviour.

The ‘Quality of Working Life’ report published earlier this year revealed that 89% of managers had experienced some form of workplace change in the past 12 months, resulting in behaviour associated with workplace bullies.

The research showed 55% admitting to becoming angry with colleagues, 30 per cent becoming irritable and intolerant and 26 per cent avoiding contact.

Jo Causon, director of marketing and corporate affairs at the Chartered Management Institute, says: “There is a major gap between what managers say they do to deal with bullying and the experiences of those who have been bullied at work.

“No single off-the-shelf policy will suit every organisation, but the organisational culture and management style should make it clear that bullying is unacceptable.

“Shying away from the issue is no excuse and involving senior staff and other departments is essential to protect staff, performance levels and productivity.”

* The Chartered Management Institute has published a free-to-download guide providing advice on how to identify bullying and deal with it at


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