40.6 per cent of ECEC professionals experience workplace bullying
One in three employees have felt bullied by a boss at work, research conducted by Roy Morgan (on behalf of Employsure), has revealed. The ‘State of Work 2018’ research revealed widespread ‘bully bosses’ in Australian workplaces, with early childhood education and care (ECEC) professionals ranking in the top three professions to claim bullying at work.
Those working in the ECEC sector were the second most likely of all employment sectors surveyed to report bullying, with 40.6 per cent of those surveyed who work in the sector claiming to have experienced bullying. ECEC came second only to those working in farming and hospitality, where 52.6 percent of respondents experienced bullying behaviour in the workplace.
Senior employment relations adviser Natalie Clark from Employsure said that awareness of bullying is increasing, and employees have a greater awareness of their workplace rights.
“We need to be mindful that bullying isn’t just repeated name calling or intimidating behaviour. Sometimes it can be deliberately changing the roster because it inconveniences the employee, or continually overloading an employee with deadlines that are impossible to meet,” Ms Clarke said.
United Voice, a large Australian Trade Union, with a dominant presence in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector, describe bullying as ‘very common’ in ECEC, a claim corroborated by formal and informal sources within the sector – both in Australia, and overseas
The State of Work research also showed that one in four employees have cried because of a boss, and that more women have felt bullied by a boss than men.
Ms Clark says the vast majority of employers are incredibly invested in creating a positive workplace, and want their employees to feel supported, indicating that the survey results reinforce what employers tell Employsure – “they find it difficult to have conversations about performance because it is really easy for employees to claim they feel victimised or bullied.”
Reasonable management action
Employers and managers are entitled to allocate work and to give fair feedback on an employee’s performance. These actions cannot be considered workplace bullying if they are carried out in a reasonable manner and take into account specific circumstances.
According to Ms Clark, “Employers should provide clear instructions and training, ensure employees understand the business’ performance and disciplinary policies and procedures, and document all performance and disciplinary matters.”