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Employment and Migration Blog

Managing Workplace Relationships – Part 3

Posted by Anna Ford on 25 Oct 2013

How workplace bullying can effect your business


Workplace bullying can have detrimental consequences on a person and an organisation. An recent article by Lollie Barr has found that collectively the cost of bullying to Australian businesses is on average $9.5 billion per year, resulting in decreased productivity, increased levels of absenteeism, staff turnover, poor morale and in some circumstances suicide. (,8399)


By way of example, Christine Hodder from Cowra Ambulance Station lodged two formal complaints claiming she had been bullied, harassed and victimised by officers at her work due to being the first female staff member. In 2005, Christine committed suicide at the age of 38 stating in a letter that she had been “bullied, belittled, intimidated and alienated” by staff as they had constantly “attacked my character and physical appearance since my arrival”.


It appears that bullying and harassment in Australian workplaces is far more common than one may think. A recent study conducted by Drake International found that of 800 employees, 50 per cent of the respondents claimed to have witnessed some form of bullying, and a further 25 per cent had themselves been bullied.


Who is at risk?


Workplace bullying and harassment can affect anyone regardless of industry or position, and it can happen at any time.  


Some signs of bullying




  • Swearing, taunting and put-downs



  • Physical abuse; and



  • More common: subtle intimidation, such as:





    • Silences when the target of the bully walks into the room



    • Nasty comments in front of other colleagues



    • The spreading of malicious gossip and rumors to co-workers; and



    • Being excluded from social events.







If you need any advice on managing issues of workplace bullying or workplace relationships generally please contact our experienced employment lawyers on (02) 9635 6422.

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