22 Jun 2011

Workplace bullying not just affecting victims

3:22 pm on 22 June 2011

Workplace bullying is not only hurting victims, but colleagues who witness it, according to a new study.

The survey by a senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Auckland has found a link between those exposed to bullying and their poor well-being and work attitudes.

The study involved 1733 participants from 36 organisations across the health, education, hospitality and travel sectors in New Zealand.

One of the researchers, Helena Cooper-Thomas, says the study has shown that a person with greater exposure to bullying will have a more negative perception of their work environment.

Ms Cooper-Thomas says those are bullied and those who observe it are bound to be adversely affected.

"When people consider bullying at work, they particularly consider the bully and the target and might think it's quite isolated to those individuals.

"Our research has shown that it also has effects for those who are seeing the bullying going on and seeing nothing's being done about it, and they also are going to be having a more negative experience of work."

Dr Cooper-Thomas says those who experience bullying tend to come from organisations that practise a more relaxed, hands-off, management style.

She says a greater emphasis needs to be put on leadership training so that leaders can promote a positive work climate.

The findings from the study will be presented at the Industrial and Organisational Psychology Conference in Brisbane on Thursday.