Violence and harassment
Violence and harassment at the workplace are becoming increasingly significant issues in the EU public arena.
The objective of the Foundation's project on harassment/violence at the workplace was to conduct a comparative analysis to map the patterns and trends of harassment and violence at work in the European Union and to clarify the concepts involved.
The final report ('Preventing violence and harassment in the workplace') analyses how the concepts of violence, harassment and bullying / mobbing have evolved with regard to the working environment and identifies some of the differences in cultural perspective that ground our understanding of these issues. It also surveys the variety of regulatory instruments as well as non-legislative measures that have emerged to combat the problem at national and EU level, as well as positive examples of preventative good practice.
The research found that:
- An increasing volume of research evidence links experience of violence in the workplace to organisational outcomes such as increased absence, staff turnover rates and reduced productivity.
- Both men and women experience violence, although women appear to be more vulnerable than men. In part, this reflects a segregated labour market in which women are often concentrated in high-risk jobs and occupations with respect to violence and harassment – nursing, social work and teaching being prime examples.
- Women are most often victims of intimidation and psychological abuse, while men are more frequently exposed to physical violence and assaults. Results also show that sexual harassment at work, particularly against women, is commonplace in all European countries but often still goes unreported due to fear of being ostracised, job loss and other factors.
- High levels of physical violence appear to be closely associated with particular situational factors, many of which are connected to the type of work undertaken, and thus cannot easily be removed. In contrast, many of the organisational factors identified as possible causes for violence and harassment may be under the control of the organisation and could be subject to influence and change.
- While cultural and linguistic differences do have an impact on the understanding of particular forms of violence and harassment, a greater shared understanding of the concepts under investigation is emerging due to factors such as increasing awareness and public debate about the issues, the introduction of new legislation and high-profile court cases.