Benefits of tackling bullying

Working Together for Dignity at Work - a sound business case for challenging Bullying in the Workplace

Over the last decade, the acknowledgement that workplace bullying is a major barrier to organisational growth and effectiveness has prompted a rise in the commitment to eradicate it.

But whilst the moral reasons for tackling unacceptable behaviour in the workplace are obvious and fully recognised, some organisations still ask the question - why should we invest in strategies that prevent bullying from occurring, particularly when there are no clear compliance guidelines?

The Dignity at Work Partnership Project exists not only to campaign against workplace bullying; it will promote the premise that there is a compelling business case for organisations to take seriously and adopt anti-bullying strategies.

Enough evidence exists to demonstrate that bullying costs UK industry.  Research from the Dept of Health indicates that the cost of sickness absence for stress is more than 5 billion a year; bullying a major cause of stress, costs the UK economy 1.3 billion a year (Cooper).

The effects of bullying behaviour
Organisations are constantly under pressure to transform and change to meet global demands and society's differing needs.  The strain of downsizing, restructuring, increased productivity and more competitive working climates generate negative consequences - and bullying can often be a damaging consequence of these changes. 

The effects of bullying behaviour on the organisation and on individuals are distressing, devastating and should not be underestimated.  They include:

  • An increase in absenteeism and ill-health
  • Escalated health and safety risks, and more accidents at work
  • Loss of trained, experience employees and an increase in recruitment costs
  • Ineffective management processes and an increase in poor management styles
  • Unhealthy working climate and elevated conflict in teams
  • Loss of management time
  • Poor customer service
  • Poor employment relations, leading to a rise industrial action and tribunal claims
  • Expensive compensatory payments and legal costs
  • Loss of public image and reputation damage
  • Escalated risk of violence in the workplace

Organisations must uphold worker's dignity by confronting the issue of bullying and facing the realities of the consequences of its existence.  This is best achieved by combining the ethical case with the business case for avoiding its negative effects.

The business case for Dignity at Work
The Working Together for Dignity at Work Project can prove that there are real benefits to be gained by both the organisation and the individual through adopting and implementing best practice policies and procedures that create a more effective working environment.  These benefits include:

  • Improvement in working relationships and increased levels of trust between employees and their employer
  • Reduced employee turnover and higher retention rates
  • Higher quality productivity
  • Ethical and socially responsible management practices
  • Improved customer loyalty
  • Enhanced well-being of employees and healthier working climates

Our commitment to promoting the business case for dignity at work starts with the principle of partnership working.  Through collaboration between employers and employee representatives we believe we can confidently address the pervasive nature of bullying, and attain the benefits of a positive working environment.

Involvement in the project is a tangible demonstration that your organisation takes this issue seriously.  For those of you who are interested in joining us, we hope that you will be able to recognise that in adopting anti-bullying strategies, there is value in Working Together for Dignity at Work.

Angela Ishmael
AMICUS-DTI Partnership Project