Australian workers are among those most likely, globally, to experience bullying in the workplace, according to a recent study from the University of South Australia (UniSA).*

The survey of 32 countries tracked the number of incidents of bullying within Australian firms and compared these against international figures. Overall, Australia reached sixth in the world, with 7 per cent of Australian workers reporting that they have been bullied in the last six months. 

One of the researchers, Professor Maureen Dollard, identified the importance of getting the right systems and processes in place to handle bullying in the workplace.

"Effective workplace policies and procedures are crucial to stem the tide but evidence suggests that there is still work to be done to embed good policy and practice," said Prof Dollard.

"Procedures and policies need to sit within a strong climate of safety including, psychosocial safety, where there is an explicit commitment to mental health at work at all levels and areas of the organisation."

Getting these policies and procedures in place also needs to begin at the recruitment stage, with bullying awareness included in work health and safety training. A commitment to improving the safety of workers also needs to have high-level support within an organisation in order to be effective.

This importance is further highlighted by the different forms of workplace bullying that are affecting workers in Australia. UniSA found that 6 per cent of the country's workers have been physically assaulted or threatened by an employer, reaching 11th position globally.

Female respondents also pointed to the prevalence of unwanted sexual advances and humiliation in the workforce, with this representing another side to bullying in Australian workplaces.

To help address these challenges, WorkPro has released an e-book on workplace bullying. This gives companies an insight into how to prevent bullying from affecting their operations and is packed with useful tips and advice.

*Australian Workplace Barometer project, UniSA, September 2014.

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