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Bullying in the Australian workplace

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

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A lack of jobs since the global financial crisis has compounded the issue of workplace bullying, ECU researcher Associate Professor Maryam Omari believes.  

Her research has formed part of a wider investigation in to workplace bullying, which was the focus of a Federal Parliamentary inquiry in Perth this week.

“The current job climate is definitely a concern - jobs are scarce and people have limited options so they put up with the bullying much more than they otherwise would," Professor Omari said.

Her research also found that bullying is more obvious in organisations that have higher levels of bureaucracy, are rule bound and are dominated by one gender.

High pressure environments, intense competition, long work hours and having to do ‘more with less’ are also root causes of bullying behaviour in organisations.

"Within white collar workplaces it is difficult for unskilled managers to deal with performance management issues," she said.

"What tends to happen is that managers, who are not necessarily skilled in managing, resort to activities which are not appropriate and can be deemed as bullying.  It's very easy to cross the line without even knowing.”

Associate Professor Omari has been researching workplace bullying in the Australian context for the last decade. She has conducted a number of sector and industry specific projects in the area, namely in the Australian Public Service (APS) and the legal profession in Western Australia.

Her PhD thesis - Towards dignity and respect at work: an exploration of bullying in the public sector – was the first of its kind to either verbally or formally collect information from those accused of being workplace bullies.

For more information on Professor Omari’s research visit the ECU website.

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