Workplace bullying is as bad as ever and it’s damaging our mental health

May 22, 2024

Workplace bullying is as bad as ever and it’s damaging our mental health

Total Property Services is a cleaning and maintenance company this is tackling bullying in its workplace. Photo: Fayzah Mohamed

New Zealand workers are still being subjected to high levels of bullying, with 90 percent of workplaces reporting some bullying over the course of a year.

Mental Health Foundation NZ public engagement officer Mark Wilson says bullying at work is not being taken seriously.

“People just think it’s a joke.

“We know that people who are bullied may become mentally unwell, at risk of mental illnesses or mental distress or even suicidal.”

Wilson says it is very important that awareness is increased about the dangers of workplace bullying.

“Most of us are in a workplace of some sort and that means we’re often spending eight plus hours a day in that workplace.

“I want to go and be in a workplace where I feel respected, that whoever I am and whatever beliefs I may hold, that they are respected.”

Wilson advises employees to check their employers’ or prospective employers’ policies on bullying.

Employers are responsible for ensuring the safety of their employees in the workplace and establishing policies to guarantee their safety, according to Employment New Zealand.

Yet, according to a research article by Massey University in 2023, 90 per cent of New Zealand’s employees reported experiencing intermittent bullying over the course of the year.

Professor in School of Management at Massey University Bevan Catley says several organisations are now taking workplace bullying seriously.

“Those organisations that have moved on to address and take it seriously have put in place policies, procedures and they have contact harassment officers and so on.”

Total Property Services people and culture manager Kerry Elliot says workplace bullying is not tolerated in their commercial and maintenance organisation, and its policies reflect this.

“Workers who commit or condone bullying will be subject to disciplinary action, which may include termination of their employment or engagement.

“This policy applies to all workers engaged by Total Property Services.”

Listen here as Professor Catley discusses the psychological and physical impact of workplace bullying employees' experience.

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