Workplace Survey – How Prevalent is Bullying in Your Workplace?

This is a pre course survey run from the Approachable Lawyer website in readiness for a ‘bullying’ workshop.   

We wanted to know if all the bullying we were reading about in schools and the workplace were for real or just media hype.

Check out some of the questions and some of the results:

Question Yes No
Does your organisation have a dedicated HR department? 52.45% 47.6%
Have you ever been bullied 82.4%17.6%
Have you ever seen someone bullied in the workplace? 70.6% 29.4%
Have you ever been a bully yourself? 17.6% 88.2%
Have you ever received a complaint that you are a bully?  29.4% 70.6%
Have you ever had to deal with a complaint about bullying? 53.3%  46.7%
Do you think that bullying is sometimes misrepresented as something else or the label is attached to something it isn't?  100% 0
Do you think NZ employers take bullying seriously? 37.5% 62.5%


The first surprise was that 17.6% of respondents acknowledged that they had actually bullied someone and the second surprise, that 100% of respondents felt that the bullying label was often used when in fact what was happening wasn’t actually bullying.


Some of the actual responses in detail:

Q: How would you define bullying?

  • Bullying is any form of behavior that is unwelcome, often repeated and personally intimidating or offensive to the recipient
  • Unwanted comments/behavior that makes an individual feel unable to continue their work
  • Repeated or significant inappropriate behavior which undermines an individual’s right to dignity at work
  • Someone being brow-beaten by a colleague or superior
  • Repeated and unwanted negative behavior towards a person
  • Intimidation, inducing fear for a personal gain
  • Intimidating and unpleasant behavior
  • Continual eroding of confidence by put downs and threats
  • Bullying is behavior that can intimidate, offend, degrade or humiliate a person. It is deliberate actions or behaviours directed towards another person which may take many forms and can often occur over a long period of time
  •   Imposing someone else’s will onto a person, making someone feel uncomfortable, making their lives a misery
  • When a person with power enforces their power through any means
  • 1. Bad management. 2. Managing as a tyrant 3. Wielding power and pressure over those you expect to achieve results for you
  • Unwanted, repeated and unwarranted behavior that negatively affects a person’s emotional and psychological well being
  • Unwanted attention or behavior that intimidates, threatens, menaces and makes people uncomfortable and scared and eats away at your confidence and self esteem
  • Behaviour that is unwanted,


Effects mentioned of being bullied:

  • Loss of sleep, not wanting to go to work, tearfulness, fatigue and health issues
  • Annoyed, grew from it, moved on
  • It caused me to become withdrawn while it was happening. Self doubt creeping in
  • It affects the atmosphere in the workplace, you feel down and don’t want to be there
  • It caused my health to suffer, I ended up stressed which caused fatigue anxiety and then panic attacks. Made me tearful which I am not normally
  • Increased negativity, decreased productivity, very unhappy
  • Lost confidence, questioned my own abilities, became unhappy and unproductive
  • Self esteem plummeted, self confidence vanished – poor productivity
  • It had a terrible impact on all areas of my life – loss of sleep, ill health and stress


Q: Do you think bullying is sometimes misrepresented as something else or the label of bullying is attached to something which isn’t really bullying?                                                        

  • Performance management can sometimes be seen as bullying by the person in the process
  • Perhaps sometimes by the ‘victim’ – I think if it is bullying there would be an intent to harm insult or make things personal and fearful, but if the antagonist is simply angry about a situation, rather than at a person, then I don’t think it is bullying
  • Anybody can misinterpret occasional actions or statements but bullying is repeated, not a one-off
  • Employees who are not performing may think they are being bullied when really they are being told to pull their socks up
  • Manipulators often use the word ‘bully’ as a tool to gain their own goals
  • People sometime view a raised voice as bullying but when they are given a definition, it becomes clearer
  • Management can often be accused of bullying by those who know that what they are doing should be corrected, but to save face they say they are being victimized or bullied
  • A lot of companies don’t deal with it, especially when it comes from one of the top managers   
  • I’ve come across managers who say that their staff bully them – another sign of ineffective leadership if the manager doesn’t have the skills to effectively respond to abusive behavior from their staff
  • Bullying isn’t being a strong leader with firm ideas.

We would now like to take this survey to a global audience – so if you would like to take part in this survey – here is the link.

Everyone who takes part will receive a summary of the results.


Ann Andrews, Michael Smyth and Janice Davies


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