Last year Sydney media reported extensive harassment and bullying in WorkCover NSW, the agency with Health and Safety, Insurance and Licensing responsibilities. A report released this month of an investigation directed by the NSW Government indicates that 40% of WorkCover staff felt they had been bullied or harassed at work. Half of those said the source was a manager. ”Bullying and harassment by a manager or supervisor most commonly occurred in the form of nit-picking, unjustified criticisms or inequitable treatment…” An irony is that the agency specialises in workplace safety.
There are high levels of perceived bullying in many organisations, although 40% may be at the upper end. The State Services integrity and conduct survey in 2010 reported that 38% of respondents observed intimidating or abusive behaviour at work. In the 2007 survey this figure was 36%. As a consequence of the survey, priority actions for agencies include a focus on raising an awareness of behaviour that is unacceptable, ensuring managers model high standards and that agencies take decisive action when misconduct occurs.
Agencies across the State Services are expected to give effect to the eight recommendations set out in the survey report.
Coincidentally there was a conference about bullying held at the White House last week at which President Obama spoke of the need to tackle bullying because of its destructive effects.