By s1jobs


Bullying, fraud, discrimination, sexual harassment – we would like to think such episodes of workplace misconduct are isolated incidents, but unfortunately they’re not.

A recent survey by Vault Platform found that 74 per cent of office workers in the UK have either witnessed or been the victim of malfeasance during their careers. The study further highlighted “alarming” issues of systematic misconduct, with more than a third of workers repeatedly experiencing or witnessing some form of misbehaviour at least once a month.

Aptly titled “Trust Gap”, the report was presented to 500 human resource leaders to illustrate the disparity between what employers believe is happening within their organisation and what staff actually experience. Employees rightly expect protection from mistreatment at work, yet their bosses are too often failing to meet their obligations to stamp out inappropriate and damaging behaviour.


Almost a third (31%) of UK office workers said their organisation would brush aside claims of misconduct. Alarmingly, roughly the same proportion (33%) of human resources and compliance bosses agreed that an incident would be swept under the carpet if it threatened profitability or the company’s reputation.

Because of this lack of trust, the report estimates that just 36% of incidents are reported.

Bullying is the rifest form of misconduct in the UK, with 53% of employees having either witnessed or been the victim of despotic behaviour. This was followed by harassment (47%) and discrimination (41%).

Not surprisingly, younger workers who are less established in their careers are significantly more likely to experience misconduct than their older colleagues. Of those between the ages of 18 and 34, 64% said they had seen or been the victim of mistreatment, versus 44% of older workers.

READ MORE: Time to lift the shroud of secrecy on pay and gender

The pandemic and subsequent shift to virtual work has led to a rise in behavioural misconduct, particularly sexual harassment. A study earlier this year from the Fawcett Society found that 45% of women harassed at work during lockdown were targeted online, with a quarter reporting that the problem had escalated since the start of the pandemic.

You can’t fix what you can’t see, so it’s vital employers have clear procedures in place for reporting misconduct, and that staff feel safe to do so. One of the biggest deterrents often isn’t whether an employee is willing to come forward, but whether they believe it will be a smooth and fair process.

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