The research, undertaken by the University of Wollongong and published to coincide with Mental Health Week (October 9-15), defined bullying as repeated unreasonable behaviour towards a worker that creates a risk to health and safety. The study defined this as including verbal abuse and humiliation, social isolation, withholding information and spreading rumours.
Of those surveyed who admitted to suffering from bullying, 40 percent experienced bullying early in their career. Between five and seven percent had been subject to bullying in the previous six months.
It was found that young males were the most vulnerable, as they have limited social support at work. Those who work in particularly stressful environments are also at risk.
The study was commissioned by beyondblue and surveyed 1,500 workers. beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman said, “We know that those who experience and perpetrate workplace bullying have higher rates of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder and health problems such as cardiovascular disease.”
She added that the research proves that current measures to combat bullying at work are failing.
“The strategies and policies tend to target individuals, including the perpetrator and the victim, not the organisation that allows the bullying to occur,” said Harman.
“We need to be targeting the organisations where there is a culture of bullying and empowering employees through communication.”
A Productivity Commission report from 2010 found that bullying at work costs Australian organisations between $6 billion and $36 billion per year in lost productivity.
A new study has delivered the sobering news that half of all Australian employees will experience bullying in the workplace at some point during their careers.