As the topic of workplace bullying floods the media in Australia, it
has reached the top in the UK as Prime Minister Gordon Brown faces
allegations of bullying of junior staff in Downing Street.
The allegations came after journalist Andrew Barnsley detailed in his
book The End of The Party incidents of Brown’s hot-tempered behav
iour, which were backed up by the founder of the UK national Bullying
Helpline, Christine Pratt.
The allegations have managed to highlight the damaging effects of
workplace bullying, with numerous professors and psychologists
coming forward to comment on the damage it can do to individuals.
According to research by Portsmouth University, bullying is rampant
in the UK, with 13 per cent of workers saying it happened to them
every week, and a similar 12 per cent said they felt intimidated every
week at work. Furthermore, 80 per cent of the time the boss was cited
as the perpetrator – mostly people’s line managers.
According to Charlotte Rayner, who conducted the research, there
are three broad areas where people feel as if they’re under attack. First
that their work is unduly criticised, second that they’re personally criti
cised and another is being isolated and excluded.
Cary Cooper, Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health in
Lancaster University Management School, defines bullying as the per
sistent, demeaning and devaluing treatment of an individual. He said that
it does not have to involve physical or verbal abuse and there is a fine line
between an assertive or abrasive style of management and bullying.