Half of Hong Kong workers bullied, with most suffering in silence: survey

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 August, 2013, 6:50pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 August, 2013, 7:34pm

Half of Hongkongers say they have been bullied at work, with most of them suffering in silence, a recent survey shows.

Verbal abuse, getting the tasks no one wants, and the cold shoulder from colleagues were the most common complaints, and superiors were most often to blame.

About 53 per cent of 509 people randomly polled by telephone said they had been victims of at least one type of workplace bullying.

Most of the respondents interviewed for the Vital Employee Service Consultancy – with the help of Baptist University – were aged between 21 and 60 and employed.

A third had suffered verbal insults, while a quarter had been singled out for tasks or isolated by colleagues from social activities.

More than 68 per cent of the bullied respondents said they were bullied by people higher up the office hierarchy.

While the unfair treatment had left all but a few victims angry, only about one in 10 had complained to their companies.

Suen Lap-man, principal consultant for Vital, an offshoot of the Christian Family Service Centre, said victims dared not speak out as they were worried their bullies would find out and their lives would get worse.

“Many bullied employees who call our consultancy for help are reluctant to even give us their surname for fear that the relevant parties will find out about their complaints,” said Suen.

He suggested that companies should set up an anonymous complaints system or employ a third party to process complaints.

Workplace bullying could lead to serious mental illness, including anxiety disorder and depression, said the consultancy’s senior manager Wicky Ng Wai-ki.

“We have seen several cases where the victims had considered committing suicide,” she added.

She urged employees to unite against bullies. “Many people think workplace bullying is none of their business as long as they are not involved. But at the end of the day everyone will be affected if bullying becomes a part of the office culture.”