Workplace relations in the balance

14 July 2010
Sarah Campbell blog picHow well do you get on with your colleagues? If you have a constructive, healthy, friendly relationship, happily you’re in the majority. However, if you feel bullied, victimised or just don’t like them, you’re far from alone. A survey by HR consultancy Reabur of just under 1,300 workers in sectors ranging from retail to healthcare to law found that 32 per cent of them said their manager was incompetent. High praise indeed. More worryingly, almost half of the respondents said they either felt bullied by their boss (21 per cent) or picked on by a peer at work (28 per cent). Half! Seems a lot, doesn’t it? I’m always slightly sceptical of this sort of research. I do wonder whether people who do feel bullied at work are more likely to fill out a questionnaire about it than people who get on well with their workmates, leading to the survey results showing a higher number of incidents of bullying than in reality. But it’s not the first research to show these sort of statistics. Back in January a Guardian article claimed that the recession was causing a rise in bullying as managers use strong-arm tactics to get results from their workforce. It’s not a policy that John Timpson, the straight-talking chairman of shoe repair chain Timpson’s, would subscribe to. He has a much more common-sense approach to relationships at work: “You have got to be polite, decent and to stick by your word. You can create a better business together if you get on as people.” It’s a tricky balance, isn’t it? On the one hand, organisations need to make employees give more with fewer resources as budgets are squeezed; on the other, making people feel rubbish about work isn’t going to make them want to put in that extra effort. I’d be interested to see figures on workplace relations among procurement professionals. To me they seem a level-headed bunch, and the recession has arguably given them more opportunity to prove their worth to the organisation, which must be good for team morale. But what’s your view? Are buyers just as prone to bullying as everyone else?
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