February 12, 2007

University bullying shock [Shock and horror, how can these things happen in universities...]

Dozens of staff at Sheffield Hallam University have reported being bullied at work, according to a private internal survey into workplace stress carried out by their bosses. Almost 100 of those taking part reported being bullied 'always, often or sometimes', while other revealed fears about stress levels and victimisation.

Staff also raised serious concerns about pressure at work, the report finding that 'urgent action' was required in 10 areas of work relating to stress. 'Clear improvement' was needed in 22 other areas, while in no category was the University rated as doing 'very well', according to scales devised by the Government's
Health and Safety Executive.

The survey, carried out for the University's internal health and safety service, received 844 responses. A similar report prepared last year found staff rated the quality of the university management as 'very unsatisfactory' in many respects.

Lecturers' union the
UCU said the findings on stress and bullying were 'disturbing' but pointed out such problems were common throughout higher education. And spokesman Roger Kline praised Hallam for seeking to understand the issues involved. [Roger Boy why did you not kiss their feet?]

"This report makes disturbing reading - it shows the pressures that university staff are under and the levels of stress," he said. "But this is not unique to Sheffield Hallam. I am quite certain that were surveys to be done in most institutions they would show similar or even worse responses."
[So when will we have surveys in all other universities Roger Boy?]

In all 96 staff members said they had been bullied at work. University Vice-Chancellor Diana Green said the University cared about the welfare of its workforce and it was important that the wellbeing of staff was regularly monitored.

"We do this in a variety of ways, one of which is the staff stress survey. The survey allows us to take action to alleviate stress where there are concerns and I, and the Board of Governors, have publicly committed to improving the University's performance in this area."
[I will vomit later...]
From: The Star, 9 February 2007


Anonymous said...

Posted on Sally Hunt's blog 'A Manifesto for our shared future' - Sally's manifesto is silent about the issue of workplace bullying.

Sally - workplace bullying is part of the present and the future and UCU need to engage with the problem and to start using the 'b' word.

I include an extract from the late Tim Field's website.

Labour Party and Trade Union interdependence

Despite public disagreements, the Trade Unions and the Labour Party are mutually reliant. The Labour government is dependent on financial and political support from the trade unions in order to remain in power, and the trade unions are reliant on the Labour government to fulfil the needs and interests of the trade unions and to keep the Conservative Party (the Tories) and other political parties out of power.

Despite repeated lobbying, the UK government has done little to tackle bullying in the workplace. Any letter to the Prime Minister or a government minister is passed to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) who reply with a standard paragraph "The Government takes bullying at work very seriously and believes that employees should be able to work without fear of being bullied or harassed from employers, fellow employees, or anyone else." I have a collection of letters with this paragraph dating from 1996. Sincerity can be gauged from the consistency between words and actions, and the government has taken little substantive action to deal with the issue or workplace bullying. In March 2004 the government announced the award of £1 million to the trade union Amicus-MSF for a study of bullying although it remains to be seen what Amicus will do with this money. Given that the direct, indirect and consequential costs of bullying in the UK may amount to £30 billion every year, the government's disinterest and tardiness for over a decade suggests a distinct lack of enthusiasm for the subject. Perhaps it's too close to home.

The DTI standard reply continues: "The Government believes that the best place for bullying to be tackled is where it happens within the workplace - new laws may not necessarily help people clarify their behaviour towards each other." This naivety belies the fact that in over 95% of cases the sole concern of the employer seems to be to get rid of the target of bullying and to protect the bully - whatever it costs. In a THES survey in 2005 most respondents said they believed University HR departments protect institutions and help bullies rather than victims. The purpose of bullying is to hide inadequacy, and behind most cases there's a can of worms, so the employer's response is not surprising. Occasionally an employer with integrity comes to me for advice on dealing with a case, which restores my faith in humanity, temporarily.

The DTI paragraph concludes: "Bullying would be very difficult to define in a legal and workable context". Anything you don't understand is difficult to define. The same arguments were used in response to proposals to introduce laws on discrimination and harassment.

Anonymous said...

We had an internal survey in my uni two years ago which identified workplace bullying.

I went to tell HR that I was one of the people who felt that they were being bullied.

I spoke to my local UCU rep...

...nothing very much has happened... the issue of bullying has not been tackled...

...at least action is being taken in some universities to bring the issues out into the open... the silence surrounding workplace bullying in my university is deafening...

... and shocking.

Anonymous said...

trading integrity against professionalism

Anonymous said...

It is important to have anti- bullying/harassment policies given the endemic nature of problems of this nature in many universities as UCU argues,but this is only a beginning. They also are used when in place as paper cloaks for inaction or worse,victimisation of complainants for making 'false allegations' when management 'investigates'its own abuses.The codes must be enforced by truly independent scrutny, and if eg Sheffield Hallam senior management want to be taken seriously perhaps we could be informed of the statistics of their response given the persistent scale of their problem,eg the numbers of managers warned or disciplined after proper investigation of harassment? HR departments, all too often staffed with bloated numbers of whitewash officials in recent times, very often specialise in ignoring elementary norms of due process particularly when protecting senior management misconduct.Also UCU will only make a real impact on these problems by demanding real action against notorious career bullies prospering in many institutions despite official 'stances' to the opposite effect.

Anonymous said...


From Warwick University - google Warwick University - bullying ... YOU CAN'T BE SERIOUS????

This job described below is voluntary and there is no remuneration for these duties?????????????????????????

Would you volunteer for this???????




To provide confidential support to individuals who may be experiencing difficulties relating to harassment and/or bullying. The aim of the role is to facilitate informal resolution in cases of harassment or bullying where possible. Harassment Contacts will be given appropriate training in relation to the policy and any relevant areas of the law.


1. To provide individual staff members with a confidential support service for harassment and bullying issues.
2. To provide guidance to individuals on the possible options for action.
3. To support individuals during the resolution of their concerns, which may include informal action (e.g. discussing what the individual may wish to write/say to the perpetrator, or accompanying the individual to raise the matter with a senior manager), or supporting them should they wish to make a formal complaint.
4. To support individuals against whom a harassment/bullying complaint has been made, by outlining the formal process and any other support routes open to them, and supporting them through the formal process.
5. To provide support for other Harassment and Bullying Contacts.
6. To provide a brief report on all requests for assistance for monitoring and review purposes on a confidential basis.
7. To undertake initial training and further updates/training as required.

Harassment Contacts will NOT be expected to
(i) act as an advocate for the complainant or approach the perpetrator on behalf of the individual;
(ii) provide counselling;
(iii) take responsibility for resolving the problem.

The role is voluntary and there is no remuneration for these duties.


A Harassment Contact will:

• have knowledge of the harassment and bullying policy for staff;
• demonstrate effective communication and listening skills;
• be approachable and be able to offer empathy;
• demonstrate sensitivity, tolerance and tact;
• be objective and non-judgemental;
• be able to maintain confidentiality;
• possess an awareness of the parameters of the role and an ability to refer issues on as appropriate;
• demonstrate an understanding of and a commitment to the University’s Equality and Diversity Policy, Race Equality Policy and other relevant policies;
• have clear personal/professional boundaries;
• support diversity values.


• Knowledge of relevant University policies and procedures including the Equality and Diversity Policies.
• Broad knowledge of the structure of the University.
• Broad knowledge of the various departments and operations within the University.

Anonymous said...

On February 8th Roger Kline mentioned the 'B' word on his blog....

Well done Roger!!!