MAKE A DIFFERENCE | workplace culture / mental health / wellbeing

Only Half Of Employers Take Bullying Seriously, Says Study

Only half of employers seem to take bullying seriously, says specialist law firm.
Documents about Workplace bullying in a court.

Bullying in the workplace, for whatever reason, can have a big impact on someone’s mental health.

Those experiencing bullying dread going to work and productivity can suffer. It can sometimes result in people needing time off from work or even leaving the business.

It can also impact work culture and make a company toxic to work for.

But then why do only half of UK employers do something about it?

Do Employers Take Workplace Bullying Seriously?

New research from Bolt Burdon Kemp, a specialist law firm, finds that only 50% of Brits believed their workplace takes bullying seriously.

This includes discrimination and harassment.

Of those earning over £55,000 a year, 57% say that their workplace is hot on this.

This compared to 43% of those earning £15,000 saying the same.

Nearly half (45%) of the younger working generation—aged 16 to 24—said they didn’t know where to go to make a sexual harassment complaint.

Sadly, 23% of this same age group say they are most likely to be put off going to the police or a lawyer about sexual abuse.

This is because they think they will not be believed.

Bolt Burdon Kemp surveyed 2,000 British adults to see whether they would want to seek justice or have the means to do so.

Of these adults, interestingly 59% say it’s too expensive to access legal support.

Another 52% believe there are too many barriers to getting this legal support.

Men More Confident Than Women When Making A Complaint

The survey brought to light an imbalance between how empowered men and women are in problematic situations.

Men are more likely than women to say they’d know what to do if something traumatic happened to them.

In contrast, more women than men say they’d hesitate to talk to the police or a lawyer if something happened to them.

For 19% of women (and 14% of men), this is in case they weren’t believed.

For 15% of women (and 11% of men), this is in case they get blamed for what happened.

56% of men said they know where to go to make a sexual harassment complaint. This drops to 52% for women.

More women (55%) than men (48%) believe there are too many barriers to getting legal support.

Younger Generations Confident In Talking To Police But Don’t Know When

Younger people seem to be more confident in speaking to the police than their older counterparts—with 35% of 16 to 24-year-olds saying they’re comfortable going to the police compared to 31% of those aged 35 and over.

However, the younger generation is also less likely to know what to do in most of the situations addressed in the report.

Of those aged 16 to 24, 45% say they know where to go to make a sexual harassment complaint (compared to 55% of those aged 35 and above.

In contrast, 34% of 16 to 24-year-olds say they’d go to the police for help, in comparison to 30% of those aged 35 and over.

The youngest generation is also more likely to be put off going to the police or a lawyer about sexual abuse, with 23% hesitating in case they’re not believed (versus 15% of those aged 35 and above.

Compared to other age groups, a larger proportion of those aged 25 to 34 (15%) said they wouldn’t report sexual abuse in case it negatively affects their relationships or career.

Geography Impacts Legal Outcomes For Victims

Of those from Northern Ireland, 61% say they’d be comfortable going to a law firm if they needed help, support or to make a complaint.

The overall average response is 42%, making the region highly than most regions.

Only 47% of people in the East of England say they know where to go to make a sexual harassment complaint. This is a percentage point lower (46%) in the North West.

In Yorkshire and the Humber, only 36% say they’d feel comfortable going to a law firm for help.

People On Lower Incomes Do Not Know How To Act On Bullying And Harassment

Compared to respondents in other income ranges, those who earn £15,000 or less per year are the least likely to say they’d know what to do if something happened to them.

The same group would also hesitate to contact the police or a law firm about sexual abuse.

Only 50% of those earning £15,000 or less would feel comfortable making a complaint about discrimination at work.

Of those earning £15,000 or less, 43% said their workplace takes bullying, harassment or discrimination complaints seriously.

The average is higher for lower incomes when it comes to contacting the people.

One in five (21%) of those earning £15,000 or less said they’d hesitate to contact the police about sexual abuse. This is because they might not be believed.

Employers Need To Take Bullying, Discrimination and Harassment Seriously

While bullying is not against the law, harassment is.

According to the Government website, employers are responsible for preventing bullying and harassment. They are also liable for any harassment suffered by their employees.

If you’re an employer and you are unsure of what to do regarding bullying and harassment, you can read this guide compiled by the UK Government.

Employees: your employer is responsible for sexual harassment, bullying or discrimination, you could contact your workplace union.

You can also contact other organisations such as the National Bullying Helpline or the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).

If you found this article helpful, consider reading Watch out: untrained managers likely to leave jobs in 2022, Creating a psychologically safe workplace and IoD to provide wellbeing programme for all members.