Bullying in NZ workplaces: How bad is it?

Women are more likely than men to have experienced discrimination, harassment, or bullying at work

Bullying in NZ workplaces: How bad is it?

Women were more likely than men to have experienced discrimination, harassment, or bullying at work.

Indeed, 14% of Kiwi women and 9% of men said they’d suffered from such treatment over the previous year, according to new research from Stats NZ.

Overall, the study found that 300,000 employed people in New Zealand (or 11% of workers) said they had experienced discrimination, harassment, or bullying in the past 12 months.

The Survey of Working Life asked employed people about their work arrangements, employment conditions, and satisfaction with their job and work-life balance during the previous 12 months.

Labour market statistics manager Scott Ussher said the discrimination, harassment, or bullying at work could be by anyone – from co-workers or managers to the general public.

In particular, workers between the ages of 45–54 years reported the highest rate of discrimination, harassment, or bullying at 14%.

Asian and Māori ethnic groups both reported a rate of discrimination, harassment, or bullying of 13%, while Pacific and European ethnic groups both had rates of 11%.

Across all ethnic groups, women reported higher rates of discrimination, harassment, or bullying than men. The biggest gap was among employed Māori, with the rate for Māori women (17%) twice that of Māori men (8%).

Moreover, women who worked as machinery operators and drivers had the highest reported discrimination, harassment, or bullying rate of 20%.

Seventeen percent of professionals (which includes school teachers, midwives, and nurses) and 16% of community and personal service workers (personal carers, hospitality workers, and health and welfare support workers) said they had experienced such treatment.

The only occupation group where men reported a higher rate (18%) of discrimination, harassment, or bullying than women was in the community and personal service worker group; this was also the highest rate of men working in other occupation groups. A majority of men experiencing these behaviours worked as defence force members, fire fighters, police, and prison and security officers.

In addition, the rate of reported discrimination, harassment, or bullying varied by job conditions.

Men who mainly worked nights experienced over twice the rate of discrimination, harassment, or bullying than those who mainly worked during the day. Women who worked varied shifts experienced over one and a half times the rate than those who mainly worked during the day.

Paid employees experienced the highest rate of discrimination, harassment, or bullying of 12%, followed by employers (9%), then self-employed without employees (8%).

The majority of employees felt they had good or very good workplace relationships with their manager and colleagues, and reported a rate of discrimination, harassment, or bullying at 9%.

Those employees who had indifferent, bad, or very bad relationships with either their manger or colleagues reported a rate three times as high (35%).

Union members experienced significantly more discrimination, harassment, or bullying (20%) than those who stated they were not members (10%).

Ussher said that not surprisingly, workers who felt they had the wrong skills for the job experienced more discrimination, harassment, or bullying.

People who felt they were under-skilled for their main job or business experienced a rate of 16%, followed by those who thought they were over-skilled (13%), then those who felt their skills were well matched for their job (10%).

In particular, those with poor job security – paid employees who stated they had a high or almost certain chance of losing their job within the next 12 months – experienced high rates of discrimination, harassment, or bullying at 28%.

This was just over two and a half times the rate experienced by those who stated they had little or no chance of losing their jobs (11%).

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