Source: Deirdre Viljoen, Forensic Manager, Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs With the recent headlines regarding the University of Witwatersrand appointing a legal firm to probe claims of sexual harassment at the University and the firing of a lecturer for failing to disclose past misconduct of a similar nature, workplace harassment has once again come under the spotlight in South Africa.
Although not a new phenomenon, workplace harassment, including acts of bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment, has been identified as one of the most rapidly increasing workplace problems throughout the world. Recent statistics report that in the United States, up to 4 million employees are likely to experience some form of workplace harassment per year, while the United Kingdom has recently passed anti-bullying legislation. Yet, despite its prevalence, workplace harassment and bullying specifically continues to be misunderstood and receives limited attention from employers and subsequently, incidences remain under-reported.
Workplace bullying has been identified as a significant workplace problem which is not isolated to a specific occupation or profession. Given the considerable role the workplace plays in a person’s life, it is essential for employers and organisations to be aware of this growing problem and to understand its impact not only on the wellbeing of individual employees, but also on the reputation and productivity of the organisation as a whole. Opportunities for conflict and aggressive behaviour are reportedly greater in organisations exposed to external and internal pressures where bullying has become a normal part of workplace interactions and raising a grievance may actually result in further victimisation. Read the full article Here