Fri, Nov 02, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Bullying at work widespread: survey

OFFICE WOES:Workplace bullying can take the form of verbal abuse — which includes gossip — isolation, being overburdened with work or psychological abuse

By Huang Chung-jung and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with Staff writer

More than half of workers have suffered some form of workplace bullying, according to a recent survey by the Taipei City Government’s Department of Labor (DOL), with verbal abuse being the most common form.

The survey, “OKWORK? Unveiling Workplace Bullying,” was conducted from Oct. 1 to Oct. 14 by the department-affiliated Employment Service Office to gauge the prevalence of bullying in the workplace.

The online poll found that of the 1,820 respondents, 54.89 percent said they had been victims of bullying in the workplace, with verbal abuse, such as sarcastic comments or gossiping, being the most common type (53.96 percent).

Other forms of workplace bullying include isolation (26.04 percent), in which the target is given the cold shoulder by co-workers or employers, work-related abuse (14.95 percent), such as deliberately overburdening the victim with work or ignoring their job performance, and psychological abuse (4.12 percent), in which the abuser acts in ways that cause the victim to feel threatened or depressed.

Late last month a female bank manager in Greater Taichung, surnamed Chan (詹), was accused by nine out of her 10 female subordinates of workplace bullying. Chan was accused of saying “Who are you planning to sleep with this time?” and “You have no sense of shame” when admonishing them for wearing skirts of “inappropriate length.”

When one of the employees, surnamed Chang (張), demanded an apology, Chan allegedly responded by telling Chang to “watch her back,” since she has a daughter.

Commenting on the survey results, labor department director Chen Ye-hsin (陳業鑫) said the issue of bullying has long been neglected and downplayed by employers.

“Workplace bullying can have a profound impact on people’s mental health and social life. In the worst-case scenario, the victim may be too afraid to go to the office,” he said.

Chen said sufferers of workplace bullying should seek assistance from and share their predicaments with co-workers, superiors and friends.

“However, people are advised to accumulate evidence and report cases to their company or the Department of Labor should bullying have a severe impact on their physical or mental health, or escalate to an extent that transgresses regulations,” Chen said.

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