Bullying still rife at De Montfort

But an internal staff survey shows a modest improvement on last year. John Gill writes

July 24, 2008

Almost 17 per cent of academics at De Montfort University said they had been bullied at work, in an internal staff survey.

The survey also found that bullying among technical and other non-academic staff was reported by one in ten respondents.

Of the 1,061 staff who took part in the survey earlier this year, 169 of the participants, about 15 per cent, said they were "always, often or sometimes bullied" at work.

Among the 433 academics to respond, 72 of them, or 16.6 per cent, agreed with this statement.

However, in a report detailing the findings, obtained by Times Higher Education, the university says the figures are significantly lower than levels of workplace bullying across all sectors nationally, and the number of De Montfort academics reporting bullying has fallen from 19.45 per cent in 2006.

The survey is based on a Health and Safety Executive framework to measure workplace stress, defined as "the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them".

Results are graded from one to five, with one the poorest score, as well as by a "traffic light" system, in which amber indicates a "clear need for improvement" and red "urgent action now". Of the seven main categories covered by the poll, including broad areas such as the level of "control" staff felt they had, De Montfort was given an amber grade in five and a red in one, getting a good score in one of the seven.

Of all the groups taking part, academics were the least satisfied with working conditions, although their responses were a slight improvement on those of two years ago.

The need for urgent action was identified in areas including the extent to which staff felt able to cope with demands on their time, the level of control over the way they worked, levels of "emotionally demanding" work and support from colleagues.

Academics also gave low ratings to the respect they received from colleagues, to clarity over what was expected of them at work and the goals of their departments.

A De Montfort spokesman said: "We take the results of the survey seriously and are keen to ensure the wellbeing of our staff. We have implemented a university-wide 'wellbeing' group, which includes the university's trade union safety representatives, to promote employee wellbeing initiatives.

"We are also one of the first universities to have implemented a body map system, which enables the early identification of potential symptoms relating to stress.

"Our most recent staff survey showed that 79 per cent of staff would recommend the university as a good place to work."

john.gill@tsleducation.com

20 YEARS AGO

If you thought your Amstrad was the acme of new technology, take a look at the determinedly trendy magazine Language Technology, which brings news of the walking desk. No more need to wear holes in the carpet while you grapple with your next paper, Active Office Systems of Maryland will sell you a workstation with a built in treadmill ... "The weary word-worker can stroll along at a comfortable speed while listening to anti-stress music". No go-ahead vice-chancellor should be without one.

Mornings are different. You can tell by the way people in close shot on Breakfast Time all wear a clock on their lapel. That unwinking blue circle in the corner of the screen ... helps the nation cook the perfect four-minute egg ... but the never ending time-check bears many other messages, whether you asked for them or not ... Up, citizen, out of the house. Your country needs you. Catch that train, punch that clock. Those few phosphor dots ... project industrial time into the home. (Jon Turney's column).

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