On Tuesday, I attended a mini-conference on workplace bullying. Some academic had written a book. The reviews gave me a giggle:
The book “has captured the subtleties of a sensitive and complex workplace issue without being reductionist”. And it "expands disciplinary boundaries beyond micro-level insights towards multi-level contextual influence."
Having turned up early, I had a chat with the academic author/speaker. I told him about my book. ‘Self help?’ he said, in a pretty unpleasant kind of way. His book was serious. It did have a price tag of £55.00, if that’s anything to go by.
The research itself wasn’t bad. His team had found that ill treatment (we’re not to call it ‘workplace bullying’ anymore because he likes the phrase ‘ill treatment’) is more regularly found in medium sized organisations with established HR and lots of policies and procedures. The more policies and procedures, it seems, the more workplace bullying is likely to occur. It’s what we suspected, but at least now we have proof.
A guy behind me asked if the speaker if he campaigned or raised awareness. ‘Urgh, no’ he replied. ‘And on the odd occasion I have to, it’s reluctant’.
That’s the problem with these academics. They’re all about the process and nothing about the product. He’s completed his big survey. I guess he's now looking forward to the next big survey he’s commissioned to undertake with taxpayer’s money.
It’s the thrill of the chase, but how sad for those being bullied at work. All that money spent to put a jigsaw of information together. And once the jigsaw is complete, it’s dismantled and put back in the box unless someone else knows what to do with it. And few do. Workplace bullying is not a pretty picture.
My first question at the end was about these big companies where dignity at work and bullying and harassment polices exist only as a legal buffer or to pad out some tender document. Someone from the government was encouraging in that it was all about delivery now. Companies would soon have to show they were actually making a difference to the workplace bullying statistics if they are tendering for government contracts. It’s a start then.
But I still feel like they’re overlooking these academics, their research and their surveys in this delivery. Shouldn’t they be first in line to deliver? After all – they claim to be the experts. If you’re going to diagnose something, you should at least try and treat it or cure it.
Only when they do will I agree that they're the experts.