Bullying and harassment in the office 'swept under the carpet'

Just under a quarter of employees believe issues such as bullying and harassment in the office are “swept under the carpet”.

This information comes from a CIPD report, which found that 24 per cent hold the opinion that such issues are ignored. It also found that 15 per cent of workers have experienced bullying in the last three years with 4 per cent saying they have been sexually harassed.

One in 10 employees said they reported being bullied via email, social media or phone.

The report found that line managers are connected to causing and preventing bullying at work. Four in 10 (40 per cent) say their line managers were responsible for being bullied whilst 34 per cent of employers said one of the top barriers to effective conflict management is that managers do not have the confidence to challenge inappropriate behaviour.

As 40 per cent of line managers have said they have received people management training, the CIPD is urging businesses to properly train staff.

Employees seem more confident since the Me Too movement, as 33 per cent of employees are more confident to challenge sexual harassment than they were two years ago.

In response to this data, the CIPD is calling for:

  • Increase investment in people management training for managers, and provide them with specific training to help them prevent and manage conflict at work, such as by having difficult conversations
  • Encourage a speak-up culture with a clear complaints procedure that’s well-publicised, so staff know how to raise concerns, and who to turn to if their manager is the instigator
  • Be aware that there could be times when it’s appropriate to try and resolve the issue informally first, given that bullying and harassment can cover a wide spectrum of behaviour that may, in some cases, be unintentional.


Rachel Suff, senior employment relations adviser, CIPD, said:

Managers should be important role models, set expectations of behaviour around dignity and respect, and gain the trust of their team.

The number of managers who are being blamed for harassment and bullying should serve as a wake-up call to employers to put training managers at the heart of efforts to prevent inappropriate workplace behaviour.

Our research shows that managers who’ve received training can help to stop conflict from occurring and are much better at fostering healthy relationships in their team. And when conflict does occur, they can help to resolve the issue more quickly and effectively.

This report was put together by two surveys, both conducted by YouGov, who asked the opinion of 2,211 UK adults and another where they spoke to 1,016 senior HR professionals.





Darius is the editor of HRreview. He has previously worked as a finance reporter for the Daily Express. He studied his journalism masters at Press Association Training and graduated from the University of York with a degree in History.