The 2023 Workplace Harassment & Misconduct Insights report, conducted by HR Acuity, dives into the challenges faced by employees who witness or experience bad behaviour at work.

The survey revealed a lack of trust in the investigations process and the subsequent damage it does to their workplace loyalty. The survey also reveals that despite most organisations offering anonymous reporting tools, employee distrust in those tools is rampant.

Of the key findings, one of the most alarming is that nearly half (40%) of the respondents lacked confidence that their reported concerns would be thoroughly investigated and addressed fairly. Additionally, almost half of the respondents actually feared retaliation for reporting workplace concerns. The results reinforce how important it is for employees to not only understand the value of reporting but also trust the process.

The survey indicated that employees who experienced or witnessed behaviours including bullying, sexual harassment and discrimination were more likely to leave their jobs. In fact, a full thirty percent of affected employees no longer work for their organisations, compared to only 11% of those who had not experienced or observed such issues.

Deb Muller, CEO of HR Acuity, commented:

It’s clear from the survey results that how organisations respond to workplace harassment and bad behaviour matters as much as trying to prevent it. With more transparency around investigations, organisations can foster an inclusive and safe environment that bolsters employee confidence, improves reporting and helps teams proactively address workplace harassment and misconduct.

Deb Muller, CEO of HR Acuity

It’s important to note that incidence reporting is trending in the wrong direction. In 2023, half of the employees experienced or witnessed incidents of workplace harassment or misconduct, but only 58% of these incidents were reported, a decrease from 64% in 2019. The survey highlighted various reasons for underreporting, including discomfort, skepticism about the handling of issues, concerns about not being taken seriously and fears of retaliation.

Finally, the survey also signals the need for ER departments to prepare for unique experiences across multiple segments of the workforce. The results identified distinct challenges faced by independent contractors and transgender employees. Independent contractors reported a higher rate of issues, with a significant number occurring outside of office locations. These contractors were less likely to report issues to their managers (39%) and more likely to utilize anonymous hotlines for reporting.

On the other hand, transgender employees were the most affected group, with 85% having experienced or witnessed an issue. They expressed less confidence and awareness in processes for reporting and addressing concerns, often experiencing incidents outside of the office and preferring anonymous or non-anonymous reporting methods.

For more insights from HR Acuity’s 2023 Workplace Harassment and Misconduct study, download the full survey results here:

Joanne Swann, Content Manager, WorkWellPro
Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website

Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.