A recent Samaritans survey claimed 80% of employees have been bullied at work. Bullying is said to contribute to stress at work, and anti-bullying initiative Dignity at Work estimates it cost UK organisations £13.75 billion in 2007.
Mobiles and Blackberries have apparently led to 'cyber bullying', making it impossible to escape abusive colleagues. Has bullying reached epidemic proportions, or is it the definition that is out of control?
Being bullied can now mean everything from being the subject of gossip to having comments ignored or receiving unpleasant emails. When what was once accepted as the normal workplace grind is recast like this, it is not surprising that bullying seems on the rise. Managers only need to set ‘unreasonable deadlines’ or firmly tell someone off, à la Sir Alan Sugar on The Apprentice, to be branded bullies.
Concern about bullying has led to new policies designed to protect employees, and training courses in managing ‘sensitive situations’. Is this a much-needed response to a growing problem, or have we gone soft? Do HR professionals and the unions exaggerate our vulnerability?
Are we no longer capable of resolving unpleasant situations with the informal help of friends and colleagues, and if not, why not?- Institute of Ideas
Sharon Bolton is a Professor of Organisational Analysis at Strathclyde University Business School, Glasgow. Her research interests include emotion in organisations, public sector management, nursing and teaching, gender and the professions, dignity in and at work, the human in human resource management.
Bolton is currently working on comparative research on dignity at work in Europe, with a focus on Greece and the UK and also gender and knowledge transfer.
Richard Donkin is an international author, speaker and commentator on work and management. For the past 14 years he was employment and recruitment columnist for the Financial Times.
Donkin joined the FT in 1987 from the Yorkshire Post after he had been named Provincial Journalist of the Year in the British Press Awards. Donkin won awards for financial investigative journalism during his FT career.
His book, Blood, Sweat and Tears, The Evolution of Work, was published in the UK and US in 2001. Today Donkin is pursuing an independent writing and consulting career with regular columns and articles in various publications.
Para Mullan has fifteen years of experience in human resource management and is a Fellow Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel. Mullan is Development Operations Director at cScape Strategic Internet Services Ltd; a digital agency that provides online services for clients like Barclays and Sony.
As operations director, Mullan oversees the running of the production units within the company and works with the HR Manager to ensure that employee's skills are aligned with the company objectives.
Hilary Salt is a qualified actuary and the Actuarial Director of First Actuarial plc, running the Manchester office.
She is also chair of the Manchester Salon.