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Advancing equality and diversity in universities and colleges


Bullying and harassment

Protect staff from bullying and harassment and create a culture that promotes dignity at work.

The Health and Safety Executive estimates that bullying accounts for up to 50 per cent of stress-related workplace illnesses. This means that every year bullying costs UK employers 80 million lost working days and up to £2 billion in lost revenue.

This is in addition to the human cost to the targets, and the risk to employers that employees will take legal action resulting in adverse judgement, heavy costs and damages, and negative publicity.

Allowing a culture of bullying and harassment to develop unchecked can damage morale, customer service and productivity, lead to an increase in absence and ill health (particularly stress-related), create risk of poor industrial relations and increased tribunal claims and impact negatively on individuals, teams and the whole organisation (including those not directly affected).

Benefits of dignity at work >
  • Higher morale and improved performance
  • Giving employees a more positive working environment improves morale and has a consequent impact on productivity
  • Relaxed, happier staff are more productive and this relates to the whole workgroup, not just those immediately affected by bullying or harassment issues
  • Reduced absence levels, particularly stress-related
  • Bullying and harassment are likely to lead to stress-related illnesses. Effectively tackling these issues is likely to improve sickness absence rates
  • Reduced turnover and better staff retention rates
  • Employees frequently choose not to remain with the organisation when they can resolve their issues by resigning. Research indicates that approximately 50 per cent of those who are targets of bullying and harassment leave the organisation rather than using internal procedures to resolve the situation.
  • Improved service delivery
  • If staff are treated fairly and well by their employer, they are far more likely to behave in a positive way towards other stakeholders such as students and members of the public
  • Better industrial relations
  • Organisations that have an effective strategy to deal with bullying and harassment are far less likely to have constant difficulties with the recognised trade unions. The best institutions are likely to work actively in partnership with the unions to meet their obligations to promote dignity at work, and are usually much more successful in achieving their objectives by operating in this way.