The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), in partnership with NUI Galway and the National College of Ireland (NCI), has published findings of a large-scale survey of nurses and midwives in Ireland on the current levels of workplace bullying being experienced by its members.
The study was headed by Professor Maura Sheehan at NUI Galway who worked with Dr TJ McCabe, Lecturer in HRM and Research Methods at NCI.
The survey, which provides an updated analysis of one conducted by the University of Limerick (UL) of nurses, in conjunction with the INMO, in 2010, highlights that over the past four years there has been an increase of over 13% in perceived incidences of bullying.
Some of the key findings are as follows:
o Over the past 4 years there has been a 13.4% increase in perceived incidences of bullying (the ‘likelihood’ of bullying);
o Almost 6% of respondents (nurses and midwives in Ireland) reported that they are bullied on an almost daily basis;
o The percentage of non-union members who experience almost daily bullying is almost double that of union members; and,
o Government cutbacks are a probable explanation for the significant rise in reported bullying between 2010 and 2014.
According to Ms Sheehan: “The finding that almost 6% of respondents perceive to be bullied on an almost daily basis is very disturbing. The personal consequences in terms of health, well-being and family relationships of people who experience workplace bullying are extremely serious.”
Ms Sheehan went on: “Almost all organisations (93.5%) have a formal anti-bullying policy in place. Clearly there is a significant gap between the presence and implementation of such policies. There needs to be a fundamental culture change in hospitals and care facilities – a zero tolerance policy for any bullying must be implemented. This must apply to all employees, no matter how senior, specialised and experienced.”
Commenting on the study, Dr McCabe said:
“Nurses and midwives operate at the ‘coal face’ of our Health Service. Most people here in Ireland know a nurse or a midwife. They are friends with or they are related to a nurse or a midwife. The work nurses and midwives do, their commitment and dedication, is essential to the successful running of our Health Service. While the findings are shocking and disturbing, the purpose of our research is both constructive and positive.”
Workplace bullying was found to have negative consequences both personally and professionally for example:
o Having more time off work through sickness;
o Thinking or talking about leaving the job;
o Decreased job satisfaction;
o Increased levels of stress leading to reduced performance at work; and,
o Actively searching for work elsewhere.
Phil Ni Sheaghdha, INMO Director of Industrial Relations said: “Unfortunately this result is not a surprise as it confirms some of the information our members have been reporting to us. They believe the problem has been accelerated due to the effects the cutbacks in health care have had in the workplace, particularly as the activity levels have increased, hospitals are constantly overcrowded and staffing levels have reduced. Employers need to be proactive now and become aware of trends and intervene early to ensure policies are fit for purpose and managers are trained to intervene early and appropriately.”
The INMO will now seek an early engagement with employers on these issues and we will also launch a ‘Code of Advice’ for members being bullied with key points as follows:
S – Stay calm and walk away
A – Act to document incidence
F – Follow bullying procedures
E – Engage support.
See www.inmo.ie for more.