Workplace bullying of South African employees : prevalence and the relationship with sense of coherence and diversity experiences
Workplace bullying is creating negative physical and psychological effects on employees and has a serious impact on the organisations’ bottom line. Workplace bullying has been related to excessive absenteeism, high employee turnover and hostile work environments. However, no recent studies on the prevalence of workplace bullying in the South African context are available. This is important because of the multicultural, multiracial composition of the South African workforce, and socio–demographic factors such as race, gender, age, education level and type of industry should be investigated to determine if differences exist with regard to the experience of workplace bullying. The personality resource, sense of coherence, should add an important element to this study, as the results could offer an important indicator for managers to change the employee’s environment in order to render the stimuli to which they are exposed more understandable, significant and manageable. In South Africa, diversity, multiculturalism, affirmative action and equal employment opportunity are words in common currency in a newly democratic country. Literature suggests that if diversity within African organisations is positively experienced, it could enhance harmony and effectiveness within that organisation. The objectives of this study were to 1) determine the relationship between workplace bullying, socio–demographic characteristics, sense of coherence and diversity experiences according to the literature; 2) to determine how frequently employees in South Africa experience acts of workplace bullying; 3) to determine if there are significant differences between socio–demographic groups (including race, gender, age, education and industry) with regards to workplace bullying; 4) to determine if there are significant differences between the different types of bullying (direct, indirect, supervisor and colleague bullying) with regards to sense of coherence; and 5) to determine if there are significant differences between the different types of bullying (direct, indirect, supervisor and colleague bullying) with regard to diversity experiences. An availability sample (N = 13 911) was utilised to determine the prevalence of workplace bullying in a sample of South African employees. Frequencies were used to determine the prevalence of workplace bullying for the total sample and MANOVA was used to determine differences between the groups. The results indicated that workplace bullying is a prevalent problem in South Africa, as people experience frequent overall bullying (4% reported being often bullied; 31,1% reported being always bullied). On the socio–demographic characteristics, Blacks experienced a higher level of workplace bullying in comparison with the other race groups, and men and women experience statistically significant differences with regards to workplace bullying. It was evident that older employees experience statistically significantly lower levels of bullying, and a statistically significant difference between those employees with a secondary and tertiary education was found. It seems that the highest levels of direct bullying by supervisors occurred in the government industry, followed by the mining industry. Individuals with a higher SOC experienced lower levels of bullying compared to individuals with a lower SOC. Statistically significant differences were found on all bullying dimensions with regards to diversity experiences. Recommendations were made for future research and organisations.
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