Media Release: University to investigate the impact of bullying in the workplace

QUEEN Margaret University has been awarded a contract to research the extent and impact of bullying in the workplace on young workers.

An academic team led by Chartered Health Psychologist, Dr Chris McVittie, is conducting an online survey, discussions and interviews with young workers employed in the fast food industry, convenience stores and betting shops throughout Scotland, to uncover the truth about the level of workplace violence and abuse in the small retail sector.

The research has been commissioned by The Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives (HWL) to gain practical insights into the experiences of young workers’ aged 16 to 24 years and inform the development of appropriate guidance to employers, particularly within the SME sector.

Often, young workers are new employees uncertain how to behave at work and such experiences can negatively impact on their attitude to work and the communities in which they live.

Commenting on the successful bid, Dr McVittie said: “Workplace bullying can take many forms and can have far reaching effects and we are urging young workers to log in and share their experiences.

“We have structured our research to make it easy to take part by focusing on conducting the traditional surveys, discussions and interviews online. Internet discussion boards and social networking sites are a part of everyday life where people can talk freely about sensitive topics that they might not wish to discuss openly elsewhere.”

So far, over 300 young people working in a broad range of jobs  have completed the online survey at  Many are also involved in discussing their experiences on the online discussion boards.

The results of the research will be submitted at the end of March.


Editor’s note

  1. Within the scope of the research, abusive behaviour is defined as including single and repeat incidents of verbal abuse, threats, and/or physical abuse.
  2. The British Crime Survey[1] estimates that for the year 2006/07, 397,000 threats of violence and 288,000 physical assaults by members of the public on British workers took place during the 12 months prior to the interviews. The 2006 Scottish Crime and Victimisation Survey[2] also estimated that ten per cent of people serving the public had been physically assaulted and 37 per cent verbally abused over the preceding 12 months. However, currently there are no official estimates of the age groups of those who may be most affected by this issue.

[1] See

[2] See

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