WorkCover Tasmania has launched a new workplace bullying research initiative with the hope of developing strategiesand measures to overcome the problem. Despite attempts by workplace authorities to clamp down on bullying in the workplace, it is still rife among the Australian workforce and WorkCover Tasmania is attempting to tackle the issue as it relates specifically to their region.
A WorkCover board member, Kevin Harkins said that the research would look at both individual and organisations perceptions and experience with bullying, this would help in the formation of strategies to reduce the impact of workplace bullying.
Bullying is not limited to any one industry and is seldom stereotypical such as a boss bullying his/her subordinates. One of the problems the research aims to tackle is getting a more in-depth and state specific idea of the problem because in the past most of the research around bullying has been centred at a national and international level, little data specific to Tasmania is available – this is something the Bullying Project research program aims to overcome.
The research will begin with a state-wide telephone survey of the community followed by more in-depth interviews with respondents who have experienced or witnessed workplace bullying first hand within the past 6 months. Thereafter a survey of Tasmanian organisations will take place, which will involve looking at how they dealt with bullying within their organisations, relevant policies and procedures and the impact of bullying on the workplace.
The following excerpt from a post on TasmanianTimes.com explains more about WorkCover Tasmania’s efforts:
Mr Harkins said bullying had a negative impact on the health and wellbeing of the targeted individuals and could result in depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, headaches, lowered self-esteem and even suicidal thoughts.
“The negative impacts often also extend to families, with the individual withdrawing or taking out their anger and frustration at home. “Time off work is often then required to treat the physical and psychological effects of bullying, or the person leaves their job, which may add financial pressure to the family, further compounding an already difficult situation.”
Research findings will provide the basis for a comprehensive strategy to combat bullying and its effects on workplaces and individuals in Tasmania.
The Workplace Bullying Project Team is made up of representatives from the WorkCover Tasmania Board, Workplace Standards and the Office of the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner. The team will be looking into the definition of workplace bullying as well as attempting to identify initiatives to raise awareness about the issue, stressing that inappropriate behaviour such as any form of bullying will not be tolerated. The team will also be looking into the development of management systems and how these can be implemented at an organisational level.
Mr Harkins also explained what the team will be looking into on an individual level:
“On an individual level, the strategy will also look at early intervention methods, support mechanisms and quality information for individuals, as well as ensuring external intervention is readily available to resolve issues of bullying.”