According to a new survey by the Union of Private Sector Professionals ERTO, more workplace bullying occurs in the public sector than the private sector. Around 38 percent of employees in Finland's public sector said they have noticed workplace bullying. The corresponding figure for the private sector was 27 percent.
Additionally, every third employee has observed bullying at their workplace in the past year. Every fifth employee has been or suspects that they have been a victim of workplace bullying. The union surveyed thousands of employees in Finland about bullying at their workplace in June.
"Workplace bullying is at its worst, recurring, long-term, negative treatment that ultimately endangers a person’s health. Anxiety, crying, trouble sleeping and nightmares, for example, are clear signs that there is a need to react," President of the Union of Private Sector Professionals ERTO Juri Aaltonen said in a press release.
More workplace bullying in large companies
The survey suggested a direct link between the size of a company and the prevalence of workplace bullying. About 20 percent of those working in small companies with less than 10 employees experienced workplace bullying, compared to 34 percent for those who worked in companies with more than 250 employees.
Approximately 60 percent of those surveyed responded that employees had the courage and ability to tackle bullying, at least to some extent.
About 40 percent suspected that employees do not possess the necessary courage or skills to intervene in workplace bullying, or could not say whether employees would be capable of doing so.
Roughly one in five said that they doubted whether they would be willing or able to intervene in workplace bullying themselves.
Aaltonen stressed that tackling bullying is everyone’s responsibility. "Although the employer is ultimately responsible for workplace security, it is up to all of us to support our own occupational health as well as that of others to the best of our ability. Open discussion in the workplace is important because the line between good and bad behaviour is not clear to everyone. Bullies do not necessarily understand bullying, until they are told about it," Aaltonen said in the release.
He also advised people to provide concrete examples of incidents to back up any accusations of workplace bullying.