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© Helge Hoel, University of Manchester Helge Hoel Manchester Business School The University of Manchester, UK PRIMA-EF Project – Helsinki, May 2008 Intervening against workplace bullying: exploring key issues
© Helge Hoel, University of Manchester Structure of presentation Concept understanding and challenges to intervention Report on UK-based anti-bullying intervention Exploring some key issues in successful intervention
© Helge Hoel, University of Manchester Defining bullying Bullying at work means harassing, offending, socially excluding someone or negatively affecting someones work tasks. In order for the label bullying (or mobbing) to be applied to a particular activity, interaction or process it has to occur repeatedly and regularly, (e.g. weekly) and over a period of time (e.g. about six months). Bullying is an escalated process in the course of which the person confronted ends up in an inferior position and becomes the target of systematic negative social acts. A conflict cannot be called bullying if the incident is an isolated event or if two parties of approximately equal strength are in conflict. –Einarsen, Hoel, Zapf & Cooper (2003)
© Helge Hoel, University of Manchester Workplace bullying: some obstacles for successful intervention Subjective and intangible nature of phenomenon making it difficult to acknowledge and rectify Sensitive issue for organisations and individuals involved: –Intervention may indicate a problem Power and control often at the centre Dynamics and process development
© Helge Hoel, University of Manchester Client/customer violence: some obstacles for successful intervention Sensitive issue for organisations and individuals involved The customer is king Stigmatisation of targets: personal and professional shortcomings Part of the job
© Helge Hoel, University of Manchester Intervening at different levels (taxonomy adopted from Murphy & Sauter, 2003) PrimarySecondaryTertiary Legislation policy Regulation (e.g. Swe) ETUC/UNICE agreement ETUC/UNICE agreement Industrial tribunal Rehabilitation legislation (Sweden) Employer/ Organisation Policy/procedure, Risk-assessment Leader training Policy/procedure, Mediation Organisational recovery (consultant) Job/task Job-redesign, e.g. role-conflict Staff survey Individual (Assertiveness training) Social support/ Counselling (Counselling) EAP
© Helge Hoel, University of Manchester Bullying intervention in the UK public sector Key features: –Combining qualitative and quantitative approaches –Randomised control design (CRT) Case studies/local steering committees –5 organisations (three National Health trusts, a large police force, a Central Government Department) Focus groups (pre and post intervention) Interventions (informed by the literature and focus groups/risk identification – total 55 groups) Evaluations (baseline and post-intervention measures) – Development of Bullying Risk-assessment Tool (BRAT) Application of self-reported and objective measures
© Helge Hoel, University of Manchester Perpetrator level or rank
© Helge Hoel, University of Manchester Intervention design (applied in all 5 organisation) Group 1 Group 2Group 3Group 4Group 5 Control Policy Communication Policy Communication Policy Communication Policy Communication Stress Management Training Negative Behaviour Awareness Training Stress Management AND Negative Behaviour Awareness Training
© Helge Hoel, University of Manchester Interventions A: Policy Communication –Rational: awareness of policy will impact on behaviour –Content: Management intent/commitment, examples of bullying behaviour, responsibility of managers
© Helge Hoel, University of Manchester Interventions B: Stress Intervention –Rational: removing or controlling precursors of negative behaviour would reduce bullying –Content: develop understanding for managing own and others stress, sources of stress, coping, time-management, relaxation technique
© Helge Hoel, University of Manchester Interventions –C: Negative behaviour awareness –Rational: reduce and control negative behaviour by raising awareness of types of negative behaviour and their impact –Content: Acceptable & unacceptable behaviour, development of transactional analysis skills for managing interpersonal relationships
© Helge Hoel, University of Manchester Participant feedback (N=193 from 5 organisations)
© Helge Hoel, University of Manchester Analysing effects of intervention: preliminary results total sample –Baseline (N=1041, response rate 41.5%) –Post-int. (N=884, response rate 35.4%) Variables: –Bullying (self-labelled) –Negative Acts (NAQ-R) –Mental health (GHQ) –Psychological contract –Antecedents/precursors of bullying (BRAT) Objective measures Analysis indicates no statistical significance –(univariate analysis of variance/between-subject effects)
© Helge Hoel, University of Manchester Before/after intervention results: self- labelled bullying All bulliedYes, weekly/daily Before13.3%1.9% After13.8%1.9% National Sample 1 10.6%1.4
© Helge Hoel, University of Manchester Making findings understandable to members of the host organisation - (pre/post intervention change) Int/Org12345 CONTROL 0-++0 POLICY --++0 STRESS +++++++-- NEG-B-A 0++-00 ALL +-----++
© Helge Hoel, University of Manchester Linking interventions to theory Theoretical understanding and orientation influencing choice of intervention :
© Helge Hoel, University of Manchester Theory-based intervention Personality Work-environment hypothesis Social-interactionist perspectives The importance of context: the need for cross-disciplinary approaches
© Helge Hoel, University of Manchester Local understanding: tailor-making interventions Importance of local understanding/context Identification of local risk-factors Some dilemmas: –Focus groups, interviews etc –Sensitivity –Stigmatisation –Bullying or general dissatisfaction
© Helge Hoel, University of Manchester Critical factors influencing successful implementation Value for money: target intervention where most needed Ensuring that those in need of training are targeted for training Achieving critical mass to ensure change Sufficient time available to ensure experiential learning Wide participation – employee involvement
© Helge Hoel, University of Manchester Externally initiated interventions: critical success factors (1/2) Managing organisational indifference and suspicions (Saksvik & Nytrø, 2001) Stability of management presence & input Shared understanding of theoretical underpinning Clarity of roles: outside and inside the organisation –Steering committees
© Helge Hoel, University of Manchester Externally initiated interventions: critical success factors (2/2) Managing the relationship with the organisation – scheduling, flow if information Researcher flexibility needed: responding to organisational events Short-term pilot programmes versus ongoing, long-term programmes (Landsbergis & Vivona- Vaughen, 1995) Training dose and realism: the limits of commitment
© Helge Hoel, University of Manchester Wide participation and employee involvement Partnership approach: steering committee Union involvement Identification of local problem Commitment, participation and response-rate Impact on long-term success of intervention As guarantor of long-term management support
© Helge Hoel, University of Manchester Workplace bullying interventions: ensuring methodological progress (1/2) Opportunity for generalisability of findings Self-reported measures: selection of instruments – validity/reliability Applying design which makes it possible to predict cause and effect
© Helge Hoel, University of Manchester Workplace bullying interventions: ensuring methodological progress (2/2) Relationship between choice of intervention and study design Tapping additional sources of information: –Trainers/trainees views, post-intervention focus groups
© Helge Hoel, University of Manchester Objective measures: unit and organisational data Absenteeism –Annual rate, long-term cases, frequent short term absenteeism cases Turnover –Annual rates Grievance/complaints –Numbers filed Change: assessing degree of change –E.g. restructuring, staff shortages, change of manager, financial cutbacks (assessed on scale 1-4)
© Helge Hoel, University of Manchester Conclusions Carrying out and evaluating interventions are complex processes requiring ongoing organisational commitment and flexibility on behalf of researchers and need for further methodological advances Shared understanding of theoretical underpinning Compromising some scientific rigor may be necessary to achieve further progress when undertaking research in rapidly changing work environments To bring about lasting change requires long-term involvement and commitment across the organisation
© Helge Hoel, University of Manchester Thank you for your attention! For further information contact Dr Helge Hoel firstname.lastname@example.org +44 161 200 8784
© Helge Hoel, University of Manchester Externally initiated interventions: critical success factors (1/2) Managing organisational indifference and suspicions (Saksvik & Nytrø, 2001) Stability of management presence & input Shared understanding of theoretical underpinning Clarity of roles: outside and inside the organisation –Steering committees Managing the relationship with the organisation – scheduling, flow if information Researcher flexibility needed: responding to organisational events Short-term pilot programmes versus ongoing, long-term programmes (Landsbergis & Vivona-Vaughen, 1995)
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