Survey points to ‘unacceptable’ bullying culture at Moray Council

Moray Council

Moray Councillors will this week again discuss concerns over bullying after a staff survey suggested a culture existed at Moray Council that employees found unacceptable.

A report is being put before a special meeting of Moray Council on Wednesday on the results of the survey into bullying and harassment within the council workforce.

That report revealed that 40% of staff members who answered the question on bullying said they had been victimised by their manager, while a further 36% said they had experienced such problems from their work colleagues.

A further quarter of those who answered had experiences of issues with members of the public while a similar number, 22%, said they had issues with supervisors.

In the report Denise Whitworth from the council’s human resources department says: “While results can be seen to vary across services, the key message from the survey is that, across all areas, employees are reporting a challenging working environment as a result of the behaviour of others and/or an excessive workload with unrealistic targets.

“The survey gives a picture of an organisation that tolerates types of behaviour that are unacceptable to a number of staff. The council must decide how to respond to this, while recognising the challenge of changing behaviour in a large and diverse organisation in a time of continuing public sector reform and reductions in budgets.”

The survey was carried out in May with a little over 1500 surveys returned, a response rate of 29%. Employees were asked to select from 12 options describing their experience. The top three selected from these were unpleasant personal remarks (42%), intimidation/threats (36%) and excessive criticism or monitoring of work (37%).

The report added: “Having recognised the issue of bullying and harassment from the 2013 employee survey and undertaken a specific survey, this has created an expectation that the matter will be taken seriously and that there will be a substantive response.

“The results of the survey suggest that the culture of the council permits behaviours which a number of employees find unacceptable.

“This may be by default, through tolerance but nonetheless, it is being experienced and permeated at all levels by managers, by peers and by service users.”

The survey followed claims made in April by SNP councillor Mike Shand that bullying was a “serious concern”, saying: “I do not believe the Council is dealing with this disturbing matter effectively and as long as there is a significant bullying issue this will impact on staff morale and on the services the Council provides to the public.

“Moray Council does not appear to accept it has a problem, never mind actually dealing with it and that is untenable. It is not a problem that will go away, as the SNP will make sure it does not until it is being properly addressed.”

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