New findings and record-breaking BBC documentary spark increased concern

  • 66% of respondents to a Sept 2019 poll admit to experiencing workplace bullying
  • Recruiter surveys over 11,700 job seekers ahead of World Bullying Prevention Day
  • Spike in bullying concern following pop star’s record-breaking documentary 

Two thirds of UK jobseekers (66%)* have experienced bullying within the workplace, according to the recruiter Randstad.

The shocking findings come from a September 2019 poll of over 11,700 visitors to randstad.co.uk, in a bid to raise awareness ahead of World Day of Bullying Prevention.  

A third have experienced face-to-face bullying

While technology advances and multiple methods of virtual communication develop, face-to-face bullying is still more predominant in the workplace than via online channels, with 34% of respondents revealing that they have experienced in-person verbal or physical abuse. 

Cyber bullying is on the rise

With cyber-bullying typically associated with a younger, more social media savvy audience, 29% of workers still admitted to experiencing bullying via online channels at work. The findings from the recruiter land at the same time as news of Little Mix star Jesy Nelson’s cyber bullying documentary about the relentless online trolling she suffered, breaking viewing records for the BBC. The concerns around bullying are further reinforced by a clear spike in online searches for the term ‘bullying’, at the same time.**

Graham Trevor, HR & Corporate Services Director at Randstad UK said: 

 “Despite nearly all employers having a zero-tolerance policy on bullying, findings from our latest poll has revealed that bullying, in more than one type of form, is still alive in the workplace. 

Bullying is something that affects such a high number of individuals, both during and outside of working hours. It’s a subject that many feel passionate about, hence the reason the recent documentary by Jesy Nelson, which saw record-breaking numbers tune in to learn about the horrific abuse directed at the young singer via online platforms, resonated with viewers. At the same time, a recent survey carried out by Race at Work revealed that one in four BAME workers in the UK have experienced bullying, and that from the 108 employers surveyed, less than half have carried out reviews into bullying in the workplace. It’s clear to see that urgent action is needed and HR professionals need to step up and enforce stronger, more robust policies and practices to help stamp out bullying completely.” 

Employers can be held responsible

While bullying is something that may go unnoticed on many occasions, employers have a duty of care for all employees, and if the mutual trust and confidence between the organisation and an employee is broken through any form of bullying and harassment at work, then an employee can take legal action. 

Graham Trevor said: “Employers are responsible for the prevention of bullying in the workplace, and anyone who is experiencing bullying at work should speak to their line manager directly, immediately. If for any reason this isn’t suitable, HR should be contacted so that a formal investigation can be carried out. Employers also need to understand where the fine line is between bullying and harassment - none of which are to be tolerated. Harassment is a legal offence under the 2010 Equality Act, this has the ability to open the employer up to potential legal action further down the line if the matter can’t be resolved. Employers that need help or guidance implementing a bullying policy should contact the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service for best practice advice and work towards implementing this as a priority. While harassment is against the law, bullying doesn’t necessarily qualify as a criminal offence here in the UK, unlike other countries that have specific anti-bullying legislation. It’s time for legislation to be reviewed to protect employees and also the employers, who have a duty of care.”

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*Participants in poll on randstad.co.uk 

**September 2019 Google trends data 

Press Contacts: Marc Heley, Randstad UK marc.heley@randstad.co.uk, 01582 817 525 

About Randstad: Randstad is an HR services business active in 38 countries around the world.  In 2018, Randstad trained over 300,000 people and helped more than 2.5 million candidates find a job with one of 250,000 clients.  In 2018, Randstad had approximately 39,000 corporate employees and generated revenue of € 23.8 billion. Randstad was founded in 1960 and is headquartered in Diemen, the Netherlands. Randstad N.V. is listed on the NYSE Euronext.  Randstad is a global leader in the HR services industry, supporting people and organisations in realising their true potential by combining the power of today’s technology with a passion for people. For more information, see www.randstad.co.uk.