New study of 650 global IT professionals reveals intense, widespread psychological bullying in the workplace. This closely mirrors broader existing research but shines an in-depth spotlight on IT.

IDG Connect has conducted a self-selecting study of over 650 IT professionals to discover their experiences of bullying in the IT workplace. Results show 75% of respondents claim to have been bullied at work and 85% have seen others bullied. Despite this only 8% admit to bullying others, and 45% chose not to answer this question.

These results in no way prove that things are worse in IT than elsewhere and are weighted by the self-selecting nature of the study. However, via a blend of new statistics, detailed feedback from over 400 in-depth testimonials, along with insight from a range of industry experts, this report paints a pretty comprehensive picture of a seemingly endemic problem.

The overwhelming majority of those who said they had been bullied reported psychological abuse (94%), a large volume reported verbal abuse (57%), whilst only a handful (8%) reported physical abuse. Most bullies were senior (74%) to their victim and bullying was usually conducted by an individual (67%) rather than a group (33%).

Most worrying of all, when asked to report the severity of this abuse on a scale of one to 10, where one was mild, and 10 was “virtually unbearable”, 76% rated it seven or more out of 10. And 22% overall rated it as 10 out of 10, “virtually unbearable”.

Other feedback from respondent testimonials included:

  • Solid agreement that leadership needs to take responsibility for tackling bullying in the workplace
  • A widespread distrust of HR professionals
  • Many individuals felt bullying was a worse problem in IT than other professions
  • The personality types which IT tends to attract was raised on numerous occasions as an issue
  • Older people and women emerged as particular targets
  • A handful of individuals angrily denied bullying was an issue at all

Kathryn Cave, Editor at IDG Connect and research project leader said, “These results don’t prove that bullying is worse in IT than elsewhere, but they do highlight a problem everyone should be aware of. I was shocked by the vehemence of feedback and severity of the reported abuse. Several individuals even talked about suicide. Nobody should have to put up with that in the workplace.”

The full report, “Bullying: The Uncomfortable Truth about IT” is available here.