Almost six in 10 people have witnessed or suffered bullying in the workplace new research has revealed, with more than two thirds of witnesses stating their colleague was subjected to a sustained period of harassment.
The report, commissioned by Slater and Gordon, shows that tight deadlines, personality clashes and office politics often caused tensions to run high.
More than 37% of those questioned said they felt they had been bullied themselves and a further 21% admitting they have witnessed colleagues being subjected to abuse.
Claire Dawson, employment lawyer at Slater and Gordon, said: “Bullying in the workplace is all too common and comes in many forms.
“As our research shows the majority of bullying comes in the form of verbal abuse or intimidation. This is often dismissed as ‘banter’ between colleagues but the workplace shouldn’t be a place where people are insulted.”
Shouting, shoving, intimidation and threatening behaviour were all reported by respondents in the study which polled 2,000 working Brits.
And while most people had witnessed or believed they had faced bullying in the workplace, less than half (48%) did anything about it.
Colleagues being deliberately humiliated by a bully was witnessed by more than a quarter of those questioned while one in ten had heard racist insults. One in six saw a co-worker subjected to inappropriate sexual remarks. Childish pranks were seen by 24% of those surveyed while one in 15 saw their colleague’s work being sabotaged.
One in 20 said they had witnessed physical violence between workmates.
The bullying was disguised as ‘workplace banter’ in 56% of cases while 68% said the behaviour was ‘subtle’, such as leaving a colleague out of work drinks, lunches and meetings.
Four in ten workers who were bullied appeared stressed or upset by the behaviour while 21% were reduced to tears.
“The idea that people can be subjected to physical violence while at work is quite alarming. This can have a devastating impact on the person who is being bullied and can result in depression and anxiety,” adds Dawson.
“Our research shows that most people who witness bullying prefer to do nothing about it. They are concerned for their own positions and aren’t willing to put their necks on the line, especially when they don’t know how an employer will respond to the issue.”