May 31, 2007

The financial cost - Don't worry, universities waste taxpayer's money...

Workplace bullying contributes to a total loss of 18 million working days every year in the UK. This equates to a cost of around £2 billion each year to UK industry...

Bullying and harassment causes huge damage to a corporate brand and its employees. 30-50% of stress related illnesses stem from workplace bullying. Work performance from individuals can suffer greatly as they feel unable to operate in such a stressful environment. From a managerial position, bullying is an abuse of power or authority which attempts to undermine an individual or group of employees. From a peer, it can be persistent unacceptable behaviour that is offensive and intimidating. Bullying can often turn into malicious, insulting and humiliating behaviour that diminishes an individual’s confidence and destroys their self belief...

Through group discussions, organisations were also able to openly discuss the challenges they have faced when dealing with bullying and harassment and possible solutions. The biggest challenges that came to light were:

• Educating managers who are oblivious to their legal responsibilities and ensuring they are aware of policies

• Acknowledging that bullying is taking place

• The difference between policies and the actual working environment

• Removing stereotypes across gender, race, religion, sexual preference, disability etc

• Attracting more women into male dominated industries

The best practise solutions that stemmed from these discussions included:

• Proper investigation procedures, starting at grass roots level. Clear pathways so employees and employers know the core values of an organisation and their code of conduct

• Buy in from senior management level. Commitment from senior level leads to a cascade down through an organisation.
• Staff associations / network groups
• Taking responsibility and challenging the bullying to stamp it out

...With the cost of a tribunal process estimated at around £40,000, and the cost of replacing an employee estimated at anywhere between £8,500 and up to two to three times that person’s salary, organisations simply cannot afford to ignore the issue of bullying...


From HEFCE we know: 'Higher education institutions are legally independent corporate bodies. Their councils or boards of governors are responsible for the effective management and future development of their affairs. They are ultimately responsible for all affairs of the institution.' And 'Staff complainants should seek advice through their union representative. All institutions have grievance and whistleblowing procedures.' Wow!

In other words, financial mismanagement due to workplace bullying - and the waste of taxpayer's money - are of no interest to HEFCE. Has HEFCE ever calculated how much money is lost through workplace bullying in HEIs? Has HECFE ever held accountable any HEI in this respect?

HEFCE's mission statement: '
Working in partnership, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) promotes and funds high-quality, cost-effective teaching and research, meeting the diverse needs of students, the economy and society.' HEFCE you are failing your own mission.


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