Thursday 14 October 2021 3:26 pm

Half of all Brits victim of bullying, harassment or other misconduct at work

Three in four British office workers in the UK have either witnessed or personally experienced misconduct at some point in their careers, according to a new study, shared with City A.M. today.

Almost half (49 per cent) of office workers in the UK have personally been a victim of some form of misconduct, including bullying, sexual harassment, discrimination, fraud or bribery, the study by workplace compliance tech firm Vault Platform found.

With 76 per cent of workers witnessing or personally experiencing more than one form of misconduct in their careers, rising to 84 per cent in the US.

Worryingly, a deep-rooted nature of systemic misconduct was found, with more than a third (37 per cent) of office workers repeatedly experiencing or witnessing some form of misconduct at least once a month, rising to almost half (48 per cent) in the US.

“It is hugely concerning to see just how many people witness or fall victim to misconduct in the workplace. These aren’t one off, isolated incidents, but rather signs of an alarming, systemic issue in businesses across the UK and US,” said Neta Meidav, founder and CEO of Vault Platform.

More than half (53 per cent) of employees in the UK have witnessed or been a victim of bullying, followed by harassment (47 per cent) and discrimination (41 per cent).

Almost a third (31 per cent) of UK office workers said they believe their organisation would brush aside at least one form of workplace misconduct.

The lack of trust employees have in their employer’s competence to deal with misconduct cases effectively has led to only 36 per cent of incidents being reported in the UK.

“There is a worrying trend that employers readily admit to brushing misconduct under the carpet to protect reputation and profits,” Meidav said.

“There is an obvious gap between the expectations employees rightly have of their employers to protect them in the workplace and the reality of how well set up employers are to meet their obligations to stamp out instances of misconduct,” she added.

Younger workers

Younger workers aged 18-34 are significantly more likely (64%) to experience misconduct at work than older colleagues (44 per cent). Incidents for the younger age bracket saw higher levels of harassment and bullying, while company directors saw markedly higher levels of fraud, bribery, corruption and ethical malpractice.

Across the Channel, every employer with more than 50 employees in the European Union will soon need to comply with the EU Whistleblower Protection Directive, due to come in to force in December 2021.

“On both sides of the Atlantic, regulators are introducing bold initiatives to tackle workplace misconduct and employers can’t afford to be left behind,” concluded Meidav.

Vault’s first ‘Trust Gap’ report polled 2,000 office staff across the UK and US to understand experiences of misconduct in the workplace, before putting the results to 500 HR and compliance decision makers to highlight the gap between employees and their employers.