Casual workers “put up and shut up” about workplace bullying because they are afraid of losing their jobs, according to a pilot study into bullying in the Australian hospitality industry.

Indeed, employees with insecure, casual employment were under increased pressure to tolerate bullying because they needed the work, according to Professor Michael Quinlan from the UNSW Business School.

Moreover, Dr Lindsay McMillan, lead researcher of Reventure, said that workplace bullying is a major concern, with one in ten workers having experienced verbal abuse or bullying in 2016.

“Bullying has a devastating effect on the mental health of victims especially if their claims are being dismissed by senior management,” said Dr McMillan.

“However, this new study has found that many casual employees are not even getting to the point of telling their managers.”

Dr McMillan added it is the responsibility of business leaders to create healthy workplace cultures and to not treat casual workers as ‘second-class citizens’.

“Business leaders need to build workplace cultures that encourage everyone to speak out against bullying, otherwise they will end up with systemic turnover issues and seemingly no reason for it,” he said.

“The casualisation of the workforce means more people have less job security, and that makes people afraid of making mistakes or ‘stepping out of line’, because they feel expendable.

“Regardless of what contract an employee has with an organisation, they need to be afforded an opportunity to have a meaningful and purposeful experience at work.”

According to Reventure’s latest research report, Renewing Australian Workplaces, casualisation of work is one of seven overarching trends affecting the Australian work landscape.

The Productivity Commission estimated in 2012 that the cost of workplace bullying to the economy as being between $6 billion and $36 billion annually.

HRD recently reported that half of Australian workers have experienced one or more serious incidences of conflict or negative impacts at work including verbal abuse or bullying.

This result was similar in the US where an in-depth study of 3,066 US workers by the Rand Corp., Harvard Medical School and the University of California found one in five workers say they face a hostile or threatening environment at work, involving sexual harassment or bullying.

Article by HRD Australia – 4 Sept 2017