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Media Release

June 27 2007

Building a bully-free workplace

Schoolyards aren't the only place bullies are exerting their power - according to UniSA researcher, Dr Michelle Tuckey, a growing number of adults are finding themselves victims of workplace bullying.

'Any place where a group of people are brought together and they're in competition with one another for recognition, promotions and basic resources, there are bound to be problems,' explains Dr Michelle Tuckey, workplace stress researcher at UniSA's School of Psychology.

Dr Tuckey says studies world-wide have suggested that one in four employees will be the target of frequent, prolonged workplace bullying at some time during their working lives.

'My own research has found that at any given time, five to 10 per cent of workers are being bullied and many more are being exposed to negative behaviours that are borderline bullying,' she says.

'Workplace bullying has a big impact on a person's psychological and physical health and their ability to perform at work,' Dr Tuckey says. 'If a person is forced to work longer, harder hours under these pressures, then memory and overall performance can suffer.'

Dr Tuckey's study of more than 750 police officers found a link between a lack of resources and bullying, pointing to the need for increased levels of resources.

'Our research has found that an increase in tangible resources, such as computers, equipment, training and time can help,' she says. 'But it is also important for workers to have improved psychological resources, in particular control over when and how their work is done and support from others to complete the work. These things can make a real difference.'

Dr Tuckey says by investigating some of the situational and environmental causes of workplace bullying, researchers can inform changes in the workplace to discourage its occurence.

'Many organisations and unions are now implementing policies on bullying and introducing bullying contact officers to help resolve the conflict,' she says. 'For employees and volunteers who are being bullied, the help can't come soon enough.

'It's really important that victims find some form of help and support because the major finding from the research to date, is that bullying has devastating consequences for employees' personal and work lives.'


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