Understanding and challenging ill-treatment in the workplace


22 / 6 / 2012

Just under half the British workforce experience unreasonable treatment at work over a two year period. Some of the more common forms of unreasonable treatment are experienced by nearly one in three, or one in four, British employees.

A detailed overview of the research that uncovered this, which carried out with 4,000 face to face interviews (552 of which were health and social care workers), was delivered by Ralph Fevre, Professor of Social Research, Cardiff University and included some top line highlights such as:

  • just under half of the British workforce will experience unreasonable treatment at work over a two year period
  • forty per cent of employees experience incivility or disrespect over a two year period
  • violence and injury is less common but is still experienced by the equivalent of one million British workers.

The research revealed that working for a public sector organisation puts employees at significantly greater risk of being subjected to incivility and disrespect. Some of this can be attributed to being a public service provider along with political and financial pressures. However, there are also issues around organisational culture – all types of ill treatment are more common in health and social care sector.

Additionally, employees in the health and social care sector presented with a range of common characteristics such as:

  • the feeling of having less control over their work
  • that the pace of work in their job is too intense
  • issues around change and the timings of change.

The research report outlines some broad solutions which may help to minimise the incidence of workplace ill-treatment such as mandating fairness and respect throughout the management structure and building this mandate into routine processes as well as the proper management of sickness absence. 

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