ICT staff report high levels of bullying

Three quarters of ICT staff have been bullied at work, with 85% having seen it happen to others, according to new research.

A global survey of 650 ICT professionals carried out by media company IDG Connect, found that, in contrast, only 8% admitted to bullying others, while 45% chose not to answer the question.

While only a handful of victims (8%) had experienced physical abuse, more than half (57%) had experienced verbal abuse – with a massive 94% claiming to have suffered psychological bullying.

Gary Namie, director of the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) in the USA said that the problem could stem from the private sector.

He said: “The narcissism of the tech entrepreneurs is excessive.

“The types of personality who start these kinds of companies are very tough to deal with. “They’re quite full of themselves and they’re not about democracy or inclusion. So, they’re natural bullies.”

He added that the media would never call them bullies because they’re seen as geniuses and “they’re the inventors of our era”.

When respondents were asked to report the severity of the abuse the suffered on a scale of one to 10, where one was mild, and 10 was “virtually unbearable”, 76% rated it seven or more out of 10.

And 22% overall rated it as 10 out of 10, “virtually unbearable”.

The survey said this was due “in part to the individuals who chose to take part in the survey, yet it does serve to highlight an intense seam of bullying that runs through the industry”.

One respondent said: “Techies aren’t known for their social skills and that leaves them and the organisations they inhabit more vulnerable to antisocial behaviour like bullying.”

And another, an enterprise architect from the US wrote: “It is rampant especially in IT because so many managers are in positions for which they are unqualified. This seems to make them paranoid.”

Case studies case studies painted a portrait of ongoing, petty activities that made it difficult for professionals to do their jobs properly.

Another respondent said: “Shared systems were ‘locked out’ so I couldn’t use them when planned.

“Annual goals were changed without my knowledge so I’d never meet them. I didn’t know about the changes until my annual review where I was told how deficient I was.”

In 2008, UK trade union Ignite carried out a similar survey which found that out of 860 ICT professionals surveyed 65% believed they had been bullied at work, with 22% taking time off due to stress caused by bullying.”

Colin Marrs

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