23 April 2013

Britain seems to have many unhappy workplaces.  Although apparently half the working population feels threatened by their boss, the worst levels of bullying are found in the public sector. A Guardian article yesterday reported that three quarters of public sector workers felt threatened at work.

It may well be that these figures are not only an understatement, but are likely to get worse; and according to the researcher, likely to lead to lower productivity, absenteeism, and disengagement.

The assessment is that leaders must change the way they operate. They need to put a greater emphasis on reducing the threat felt by their staff.  Leadership needs to meet human urges for reward.

Last year the Australian Federal Public Service campaigned against bullying. Its assessment was that psychological damage potentially inflicted on individual employees (as well as the economic) was estimated to cost between $6 billion to $36 billion each year.

Little is reported these days of the incidence of bullying in the New Zealand State Services. The State Services Commission had a focus on related issues in 2004 and in 2007 specifically proscribed bullying in explanatory material about the code of conduct.  In the SSC integrity and conduct surveys in 2007 and again in 2010, bullying and harassment were the most frequently observed misconduct (seen by 38% of State servants in 2010).  But it seems unlikely that it will have deteriorated to the 75% reported by the Guardian as feeling threatened at work.