New stats reveal prevalence of workplace bullying in Czechia

High turnover of staff and diminished output are just two of the negative effects of workplace ridicule and humiliation.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 12.06.2023 16:09:00 (updated on 12.06.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

One out of every 10 employees in Czechia has personally experienced workplace bullying in the past five years. As of August, many employees will have increased protection, since it will become mandatory for large companies to have an internal reporting procedure.

Bullying comes in many forms and usually involves constant criticism and ridicule. In 2 percent of cases, it was sexual harassment and in another 2 percent, it was physical violence. Almost half of the bullied employees solved the situation by leaving work, according to a survey that staffing agency Grafton Recruitment conducted among job seekers.

Women are more often the target of bullying than men. The most common business sectors where bullying occurred were trade and marketing.

In the workplace, bullying usually begins with long-lasting hostile relations between colleagues, which then escalate into humiliation and other manifestations. The most common type is a superior bullying a subordinate. “Bossing” – also called “downward bullying” – can include the assignment of impossible tasks, constant criticism, irony, ridicule, or even neglect.

Two main forms of bullying

There is also bullying by subordinates or colleagues at the same level. This is referred to as “mobbing.” The term comes from animal science and was coined in the 1960s to describe how birds and animals will all come together to attack an outsider. It began to be applied to how children interact in the 1970s and was further extended to workplace interactions in the 1980s. Bullying impacts not only the victim but also the workplace, as it affects performance.

"Poor mental health, increased absenteeism, increasing error rate, decreasing productivity, ubiquitous stress, this is just a small list of the problems that bullying in the workplace brings with it," Jitka Součková, marketing director of Grafton Recruitment, said in a press release.

"It is necessary for company management in particular to pay due attention to the atmosphere at the workplace and to detect any issues before they escalate," Součková added.

Bullying can also cause increasing turnover in staff. A full 48 percent of those who were bullied solved the situation by leaving their jobs. A quarter went to their supervisor with the problem, and another quarter confided in their colleagues.

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Survey respondents said that if they witnessed bullying, they would in the vast majority of cases try to resolve the situation. Half would go to a superior, 26 percent would tell colleagues about the bullying, and 16 percent would resolve the situation with the company's HR department.

The survey was conducted online in February and March 2023, with responses from 1,500 people across Czechia.

New whistleblowing law will cover bullying

The introduction of a whistleblowing system, or internal reporting system, should help with bullying and other illegal behavior in the workplace. Currently, 21 percent of the survey respondents can use this system, but from August this year, all companies with more than 250 employees should have this system operational.

Czechia passed the law earlier this year, but only after the European Commission threatened to take the country and seven other EU members to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failing to implement legal protections for whistleblowers.

According to the experience of companies that have already introduced whistleblowing, the system has improved the atmosphere at the workplace and increased employee satisfaction.

"People don't have to be afraid to report both illegal or unethical behavior, as well as bullying, discrimination, unfair treatment, or concerns about the safety of the working environment. This brings a calmer atmosphere, transparency, and higher satisfaction to the workplace," Součková said.

Employers do not need to worry about a significant burden from the system because, for example, according to a report by Navex Global, companies in European countries receive an average of five notifications per 1,000 employees per year.

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