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New research reveals over half of global employees have experienced workplace bullying

Author: The Oxford Group, Published: 17 January 2019

City & Guilds Group research into the role of psychological safety in the workplace discovered half of the workforce have felt unsafe, and half have encountered workplace bullying. Further to this:

  • 94 percent of businesses consider mental safety as “important” to overall employee wellbeing, only one in ten firms proactively take steps to support staff mental health and one in five admit to having no measures in place to support psychological safety
  • Two thirds of businesses say it’s becoming difficult to manage the psychological safety of employees due to social media and other non-business channels, and that more people are suffering from mental safety issues as a result

52% of employees in global organisations have encountered workplace bullying and felt psychologically unsafe at work, according to a new report released today.

The study, conducted by City & Guilds Group, also revealed that only one in ten firms proactively take steps to support staff mental health, and found a major discrepancy in how senior management and employees view psychological safety in the workplace.

Amost all of respondents surveyed (94 percent) said that they consider psychological safety to be “important”, but just 10 percent of businesses are seen to treat it as a priority. In part this seems down to confusion over accountability; almost half (43 percent) of senior management expect HR to deal with the psychological safety of employees at work, while the majority of employees (56 percent), believe line managers and senior management should take the lead.

The lack of ownership suggests businesses are taking the “wait and see” approach to employee mental health, which is reflected
in the findings. One in five firms admit they would only take action once a psychological safety issue arises, while among senior management, 22 percent said they would only be motivated to take action if a high profile press incident occurs.
 

94% of businesses consider mental safety as “important” to overall employee wellbeing.

Only one in ten firms proactively take steps to support staff mental health and one in five admit to having no measures in place to support psychological safety.

Commenting on the findings, John Yates, MD Corporate Learning City & Guilds Group, said:

It’s important that leaders define how to approach workplace tension and issues, and ensure the methodology is clear to all employees. The disconnect in psychological safety highlighted in the research stems from an absence of transparency, so if businesses are clear about their approach they will go some way to addressing what is a quickly spiralling challenge.

The study also found that social media and other digital channels have created even greater challenges for businesses. Although seen as valuable to connecting and collaborating with colleagues, these mediums have opened up more avenues for workers to feel anxious or stressed in the workplace and are almost impossible to monitor, leading to 63 percent of business leaders saying it’s more difficult to manage the psychological safety of employees due to social media.

The full report: ‘Leading in a Digital Age’ will be out in January.

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