All All Industry Insights Industry News Media Release Member Only Articles NRA Events NRA Legal NRA Partners NRA Projects NRA Training and Development Policy & Advocacy Policy Updates Technology Tenancy & Leasing Testimonials Thought Leaders Weekly CEO Update WHS Update

Workplace bullying on the rise

December 09, 2016

by Meaghan Spencer, NRA Legal Workplace Advisor

Results from a study conducted by Australian Workplace Barometer Project have revealed that bullying is prevalent and on the rise in workplaces across Australia.

A worker is bullied at work if an individual or a group of individuals repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards the worker, or a group of workers of which the worker is a member; and that behaviour creates a risk to health and safety.

International benchmarks

According to the Bullying & Harassment in Australian Workplaces: Results from the Australian Workplace Barometer Project 2014/15, workplace bullying increased by 40 per cent (from 7 per cent to 9.6 per cent) from 2009-2011, making Australia the 6th highest country where workplace bullying is prevalent, compared to 36 European countries.


Participants in the study were randomly selected across all Australian states and territories. Of the participants who reported that they had been bullied in the workplace, approximately 32.6 per cent were allegedly bullied at least once per week.

The types of harassment

Of all types of harassment measured in the study, the most common types were:

  • Being sworn or yelled at;
  • Being humiliated in front of other workers; and
  • Being physically assaulted/threatened.

The report showed that women were more likely than men to experience bullying, unwanted sexual advances, being physically assaulted and to experience unfair treatment due to their gender. Men were more likely to have experienced being yelled or sworn at in the workplace.

What businesses can do

The study suggested that workplaces can do much more to help alleviate the issue, stating:

“Since supervisors are most commonly perceived as the source of bullying behaviours, efforts should be made to provide education and training…particularly in relation to managing the performance of employees,… establishing worker psychological health as a core business value,… establishing systems to enable upwards and downwards communication about bullying and harassment,… [and] changing work conditions that predispose bullying such as high demand, high pressure, high competition and low control/power situations”.

It is imperative that employers exercise their duty of care in the workplace by implementing stringent bullying and harassment policies and training all employees on their rights and responsibilities.

Failure to do so can lead to employees experiencing psychological harm and to organisations experiencing lower retention rates, higher staff recruitment and training costs, unexpected legal cases, negative effects on organisational processes, and ultimately can impact turnover.


Need help with your workplace policies? Members can receive both a Bullying & Harassment Policy and a Drug & Alcohol Policy all for the price of $750 + GST until 31 December 2016. If you would like to discuss this offer further, please email us at law@nra.net.au or call one of our advisors on 1800 RETAIL (1800 738 245).

NRA Media

  • National Retail Association strengthens support for members on leasing and tenancy
    June 01, 2021

    We are pleased to have strengthened our partnership with Lpc Cresa, a leading advisor to retail tenants across Australia and New Zealand, to assist our…

    Read More
    September 03, 2018

    To download the nomination form, click here

    Read More
  • Closing Loopholes Bill No. 2 passes Parliament 
    February 20, 2024

    Earlier this month, it was confirmed that both Houses of Parliament passed the second tranche of amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) under…

    Read More
  • Jump start your business for 2021 and step ahead of the competition
    November 20, 2020

    2020 has undoubtedly been one of the most challenging years for all of us. It has created unprecedented trends in every industry, and shown retailers…

    Read More
  • NRA members winners in new partnership with Aussie Broadband
    November 16, 2020

    You must be logged in to view this content.

    Read More

What our clients say

Want to chat?
Contact our team today!