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Margaret Hodgins NHPRC 2013
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Margaret Hodgins NHPRC 2013

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Taking a settings approach to workplace bullying

Taking a settings approach to workplace bullying

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  • essential idea at the heart of the settings approach is the indivisibility and mutuality of the health of people and the environments in which they live and work - the premise that health is created by people as they engage with their working and living environments. The environment may not have meaning without people (community, workplace) and people, and their health, are influenced by and continually influence, often in complex and unpredictable ways, their environmentSame idea contained in Greens phrase - . Settings approach is underpinned bycomplex interdependencies of individual and environmental elements that make up an ‘ecological web’ This is, essentially –Taking a systems perspective (Dooris, 2005, 2011); viewing the settings as system where different elements interconnect and are interdependent on each other, and exist in a synergistic exchange with the larger environment (Dooris, 2005, 2011).Adopt an ecological model of health; accepting that health is determined by a complex interplay of environmental, organisational and personal factors (Green et al., 2000; Dooris, 2005, 2011)This in turn requires…..that we target system not the individualFocusing on contextual knowledge in developing interventions, especially relational context, for example the way people and groups relate to one another in the setting (Poland et al., 2009) Accepting that organisations, as complex systems, are unpredictable. Change and reaction within the system is not tractable from the elements or parts. There may be unanticipated outcomes, and small events can have large consequences (Capra, 2008) Developing interventions at a number of levels, including both top-down and bottom-up actions (Grossman and Scala, 1993), but keeping specifications low, planning and building vision as interventions develop (Poland, 2007).
  • So why am I applying this to the topic of workplace bullying ? What do we know about workplace bullying ?WE know that it is directly experienced by 15-20% of workers. NOTE – wide variation in reported estimates and it has been demonstrated that prevalence is moderated by methodological factors. Highest estimates are SL without def (18%) and lowest SL with def (11%). Beh checklists average at 15%. However there are at least 27 behchecklits, few validated and each applying different operational criteriaHot Spots: H&Social service, educationa and defenceStrong associations with reduced health, especially mental health The experience of being bullied is associated with a range of illnesses and manifestations of poor healthInsomnia, fatigue, depression, anxiety, Cardiovascular disease, gastric problemsRisk appears to be higher for mental ill healthIllness or vulnerability in the individual ‘causing’ bullying not thought to be a general explanationStrong desire to Quit, with about half actually leaving their jobs (based on more limited evidence)
  • The majority of studies are quantitative, concerned with measurement and associationsHowever a relatively small number of qualitative studies (Lewis, Self, Gillen, Hallberg) have revealed the followingBullying is an escalating process, characterised by persistent, systematic targeting of one or more workers, involving a range of behaviours, some subtle, some less so. It can include both personally directed humiliations and undermining but also work-related (changing goalposts, excluding from discussions, arranging meetings at arkward times etc)Targets may not recognise it for what it is, initially – they can go through an a stage where they excuse the perpetrator, argue with self that they may deserve it, the boss is the boss etc
  • Acknowledged in the lit that WB is a particularly intractable problem and despite 20-30 years of research, that organisations have rarly really faced up to this and successfully reduced or prevented it Organisations tend not to deal well with bullying‘Managers and employers, and sometimes even public sector or government bodies, are often unwilling to accept the very existence of the problem, much less prevent it and manage fairly those cases that come to the fore’. (Einarsen et al., 2011)Even when bullying cases are brought to court, 73% of cases are dismissed in favour of the defendant 9Finnish municipalities: only 55% had anti-bullying policies, less than one third provided training in identification and of bullying and only one quarter monitored and recorded bullying cases 7
  • Speedy search of key Health Promotion journalsTitle and abstract, where availableSearch terms Workplace health, worksite, workplace health promotionSorted into 10 broad categoriesOthers = Sees, safety issues, sickness rates, absenteeism, re integration1 in H P PRAC was on Physical violenceSometimes searches captured a few papers but these were the same papers that came up on MH seachesTwo journals that focus on workplace settingsSearch for papers on bully, incivility, violence etcAmerican Journal Workplace Health Promotion3 papers in Incivility
  • Although it is acknowledged within the bullying literature that bullying is usually characterised by a power differential – usually heirarchical power, much of the litertaure – and the organisational practice – fails to take into account the fact that it is not only a power differential, it is an abuse of power. For example although most images ofWB are in te first panel, the reality can be more like
  • Bullying involves an abuse of power – people with more power over others, use and abuse it – and the organisations can turn a blind eye because usually this person =- has more power and may be deemed more important or more valuable or harder to replace – or harder to face downPowerThose with less power in society are often more likley to be targeted - women (in certain organisations), people with disabilities, ethnic minorities, etc. The higher prevalence in organisations with power cultures, or that are very heirarchical or where professional heirarchies co-exist with organisationalherirachies are a testament to the CENTRALITY of power in this Perpetrators are usually in positions of power over their targetsTargets frequently report either not been taken seriously, or fear of reprisal, retaliationWorkers are economically dependent on workThe industrial relations perspective on WB argues that the nature of the industrial relation process is that employers seek to ensure that workers work hard and obey rules in order to produce goods or services. Workers negotiate to the point of what is or is not reasonable to expect within that process. As such a degree of coercion, even agression is the general sense of the word, is known and expected in workplaces.
  • Typically HR is the default function, but HR don’t do this well – and they are far from impartialSome of the difficulties revolve around the word ‘bullying’ – and this is driven by the adversarial nature of the interaction, the need for lawyers to demonstrate yes or notoo much attention may be spent on the word – this comes from the H&S perspective – the duty of care, the notion of protecting workers from a hazard even if a behavioural hazard ???? But also the psychological perspective which focuses on individually delivered aggressionIn fact bullying is just one part of a larger category of workplace mistreatment – this is evident from the BWBS and others similarly looking now are the overlap between incivility and bullying, management and so onMore may be gained from addressing the larger category of behaviours and taking a ‘preventative’ approach
  • Of 15 interventions only 3 addressed the ‘whole organisation’Most involved short, educationally focused interventions, that aimed to either raise awareness of the policy, of negative behaviours, or ‘improve’ behavioural response - only three addressed wider issues and one a policy
  • The failure of work organisations to view workplace ill-treatment as an abuse of power, both hierarchical and organisational, is essentially a failure to take context into account. Work organisations exist to produce goods and services. That power is exercised in the service of organisational goals is a fundamental feature of organisational life. This is expressed at both a micro and at a macro political level, where individuals can exert power over others and where the management can exert power over workers in the definition and response to ill-treatment. While policy in relation to workplace bullying is developed with the intention of providing a fair and balanced process for all parties, it is often neither fair nor balanced, as the one party, the employer, is also the adjudicator (Sullivan, 2008 ). the challenge is find ways to prevent power being abused. This will require management taking a strong stance on ill-treatment; that it is wrong, an infringement of human rights and must be outlawed, even when concealing it may be in the interests of the organisation. It requires senior managers to change their mind-set on ill-treatment, ceasing to view it as a problem that if uncovered should either be buried in organisational static or resolved with an impartial neutral stance on the part of the organisation. Instead, an attitude of sceptical empathy and ethical accountability is required where the organisation takes responsibility of the abuse of power (Klein and Martin, 2011).This is consistent with Rayner and McIvor’s (2008) findings in their search for interventions and strategies for tackling bullying and harassment in UK organisations; successful initiatives need visible and genuine commitment from the top of the organisation. Without this, little will or can happen in respect of addressing ill-treatment. Conversely, when managers or leaders in an organisation convey acceptance of bullying behaviour, even if by omission rather than commission, this attitude spreads contagiously throughout the organisation. In this way doing nothing is not neutral (Rayner and McIvor, 2008), managers must take a proactive, visible, anti-bullying stance.
  • Transcript

    • 1. TAKING A SETTINGS APPROACH TO WORKPLACE BULLYING M. Hodgins Health Promotion Research Centre National University of Ireland, Galway
    • 2. “Oh body swayed to music, oh brightening glance, how can we tell the dancer from the dance” W. B. Yeats1
    • 3. The dancer and the dance • Idea at the heart of the settings approach… • …the mutuality of people and their environments • Complex interdependencies of individual and environmental elements that make up an ‘ecological web’ 2 • The environment may not have meaning without people, and people are influenced by and continually influence their environment • A systems perspective 3 • Target…. • …the system rather than the individual
    • 4. Translating this into practice… • Focusing on contextual knowledge in developing interventions, especially relational context, for example the way people and groups relate to one another in the setting 4 • Accepting that organisations, as complex systems, are unpredictable. Change and reaction within the system is not tractable from the elements or parts. There may be unanticipated outcomes, and small events can have large consequences 5 • Developing interventions at a number of levels, including both top-down and bottom-up actions 6
    • 5. • Workplace bullying is directly experienced by 15-20% of workers 7 • Prevalence rates are typically higher in the public sector, in health and social services, defense and education 7 • Strong associations with reduced health, especially mental health 8,9 • For those that experience it, but also those that witness it • Almost half of those who experience bullying express a wish to quit their jobs, about half of these do so
    • 6. From qualitative studies… • Bullying is an escalating process, characterised by persistent, systematic targeting of one or more workers, involving a range of behaviours, some subtle, some less so • Targets • May not recognise it for what it is, initially • May experience shame, embarrassment • Can find it has a devastating impact on their self esteem, confidence 10-13
    • 7. Yet…. • Organisations tend not to deal well with bullying „Managers and employers, and sometimes even public sector or government bodies, are often unwilling to accept the very existence of the problem, much less prevent it and manage fairly those cases that come to the fore‟. 14 • Either responded to clumsily or not at all • Few evaluated interventions • Not a popular topic within WHP
    • 8. Quick and dirty search…. HPI GHP HEB HER EJPH SJPH HPP General WHP 10 16 6 1 9 2 Psychoso cial env 2 4 3 2 1 Needs A 2 2 2 Vole H Bash 11 5 15 15 5 12 13 Stress 3 2 3 4 Occur or Illness specific 1 2 2 12 3 Mental H 2 2 1 Other 4 2 2 1 20 3 Mistreatm ent 1
    • 9. • Why this ‘head in the sand’ situation? • Organisations can be unwilling, but also ill-equipped to respond • In short, approaches to bullying • Fail to take relational context into account • Fail to take a systems perspective • Fail to take multi-level approach
    • 10. Contextual factors • Power • Those with less power in society are often more likley to be targeted • Perpetrators are usually in positions of power over their targets • Targets frequently report either not been taken seriously, or fear of reprisal, retaliation • Workers are economically dependent on work • Industrial relations • Tough/appropriate management
    • 11. • HR as the default for addressing bullying • Interventions typically focus on the individual and the behaviours, the ‘errant or deviant worker’, the ‘vulnerable employee’ or the vexatious complainer’ tend to drive organisations down an adversarial, defensive lane • Even with policy-based approach, most policies require bullying to have been happening (for 6 months) before action can be taken • Even where there is evidence of negative behaviours, organisations are ultimately responsible for intervening
    • 12. • Interventions • Typically educational • Focus on behaviour change, individual • One ‘bit’ of the jigsaw, or the system • Target units (eg wards in hospitals) or occupational groups, but not the whole organisation • Poor methodology • Mixed results
    • 13. • Focus on the organisation, rather than ‘errant’ individuals • Focus on creating a culture of respect and civility in treatment of each other, in interpersonal communications, in management practices and the implementation of them • Including a clear and visible commitment to unacceptability of negative behaviour • Evidence from CREW interventions 21 • May be important to move beyond the capturing and proving/disproving of bullying, but addressing the promotion of respectful communication and practice • May be useful to consider broader concept of mistreatment rather than ‘bullying’ • Acknowledgment of the context of power relations in causing and maintaining incivility and bullying • ‘an attitude of sceptical empathy and ethical accountability’ 23
    • 14. References 1. W.B. Yeats “Among School Children’ 2. Green, L., Poland, B. and Rootman, I. (2000) ‘The settings approach to health pro- motion’, in B. Poland, L. Green and I. Rootman (eds), Settings for Health Promotion: Linking Theory and Practice. Sage: London. 3. Dooris, M., Poland, B., Kolbe, L., de Leeuw, E., McCall, D. and Wharf-Higgins, J. (2007) ‘Healthy settings: building evidence for the effectiveness of whole system health promotion – challenges and future directions’, in D.V. McQueen and C.M. Jones (eds), Global Perspectives on Health Promotion Effectiveness. New York: Springer Science and Business Media. 4. Poland, B., Krupa, G. and McCall, D. (2009) ‘Settings for health promotion: an analytic framework to guide intervention design and implementation’, Health Promotion Practice, 10: 505–16. 5. Capra, F. (2008) ‘The new facts of life’, www.ecoliteracy.org/essays/new-facts-life (accessed 26 August 2010). 6. Grossman, R. and Scala, K. (1993) Health Promotion and Organizational Development: Developing Settings for Health. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe. 7. Zapf D, Escartin J, Einarsen S, Hoel H, and Vartia M. Empirical findings on Prevalence and Risk Groups of Bullying in the Workplace. In: Einarsen S. Hoel H, Zapf D, and C Cooper C. (ends). Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace. London: Taylor and Francis; 2011. 8. Fourth European Working Conditions Survey. (2007) European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions: Dublin. 9. Fifth European Working Conditions Survey. (2012) European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions: Dublin. 1. Lewis, S. (2006) ‘Recognition of Workplace Bullying: A Qualitative Study of Women Targets in Public Sector’. Journal of Community Applied Social Psychology;16: 119-135 2. Hodgins M. (2006) ‘Awareness and perceptions of staff of the Anti-Bullying policy in a public sector organization’ 5th International Conference: Workplace Bullying- the Way Forward, June15-17; Trinity College Dublin. 3. Hallberg, L.R.M., Strandmark, M.K. (2006) ‘Health consequences of workplace bullying: experiences from the perspective of employees in the public service sector’. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Health and Well Being; 1: 109-119. 4. Gillen, P., Sinclair, M., and Kernohan, G. (2008) The Nature and manifestations of bullying in midwifery. University of Ulster Research Report. 5. Einarsen S, Hoel H, Zapf D, Cooper C. The Concept of Bullying and Harassment at Work: The European tradition. In: Einarsen S, Hoel, H, Zapf D, and Cooper C (ends). Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace. London: Taylor and Francis; 2011.

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