Research Indicates a Slight Decline in Workplace Harassment

A new study from Queen’s School of Business at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario found that workplace harassment has declined slightly, though significantly, from 2012. A sample of 1,501 workers was questioned in the Leger Marketing poll and, of these, 23 percent had personally experienced some form of harassment in the workplace and about 25 percent had witnessed harassment of a co-worker. The study indicates that these figures are lower than those observed in a similar 2012 study where 28 percent of workers had experienced workplace harassment and 33 percent of workers had witnessed the harassment of a co-worker.

Dr. Raver, the lead researcher, suggested that the decline may be due to increased publicity and awareness of workplace harassment. Another possibility is the introduction of legislation in many provinces to address workplace harassment and bullying. Nonetheless, Dr. Raver emphasized that workplace harassment remains a pervasive problem in Canadian workplaces.

While this is an interesting study, it seems that caution is necessary prior to interpreting the results as indicative of true decline in harassment in Canadian workplaces. For instance, it is unknown which industries the workers were sampled from and from which provinces. That is, was the sample taken from across the country, from provinces with anti-bullying legislation, or a combination of provinces with and without anti-bullying legislation? There also remains the question of interpretation of the term “harassment” by the sample participants. It would certainly seem that more research in this area needs to be conducted prior to declaring victory over workplace harassment. As disability management and vocational rehabilitation professionals, what are your thoughts about the study findings?

Read the Canadian OH&S News article here.