Workplace bullying impacts every other employee in Australia

Toxic workplace relationships are pervasive in Australia, with more employees reporting experiencing bullying, harassment, or discrimination.
By: | October 11, 2023

Nearly half of all employees in Australia, from sectors such as manufacturing, mining, construction, health, and community services, have reported experiencing workplace bullying, harassment, or discrimination.

Specifically, 49.87% of the 1,200 respondents surveyed by the Australian Workers Union (AWU) cited “poor workplace relationships”, which encompassed bullying, harassment, discrimination, interpersonal conflicts, and unreasonable workplace behaviour.

The survey also revealed that 31% of respondents had suffered a mental health injury in the past year. AWU projections suggested that by the end of 2029, a third of workplace compensation claims will be related to psychological injuries.

In addition to the human toll, the economic impact of psychological and psychosocial injuries in the workplace is significant. In 2020, the Committee for Economic Development of Australia’s Productivity Commission estimated these injuries cost the Australian economy between A$12.2 billion (US$7.8 billion) and A$39.9 billion (US$25.6 billion) annually, reported

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The most prevalent psychosocial workplace hazards identified in the survey include rotating shift work (61.74%) and night shift work (15.24%). Other factors include low recognition and reward (58.11%), poor organisational justice (56.79%), and poor support, including a lack of training and resources (55.48%).

Paul Farrow, National Secretary of AWU, described the prevalence of workplace bullying and related issues as “disturbing”. He pointed out that Australians spend an average of 90,000 hours at work in their lifetime and called for employers to take proactive measures to address these issues promptly, especially considering recent legislation holding them accountable for workplace psychological and psychosocial hazards.