The Integrity Talks

1 in 7 municipal officials experience unacceptable behavior

The Integrity Talks

1 in 7 municipal officials experience unacceptable behavior. That is an average of 15 percent between 2019 and 2022. This can be concluded on the back of the surveys among 1700 employees of six medium-sized municipalities. The research was conducted by Realise, Schouten & Nelissen’s HR research, and consultancy agency.

The fact that these civil servants experience unacceptable behavior in the workplace has direct consequences on their functioning, for example, more work stress and less involvement. They feel less vital than their colleagues, who have not experienced any unacceptable behavior.

Approximately 255 municipal officials participated in the study, and experienced unacceptable behavior repeatedly. It mainly concerned intimidation (68 percent), and bullying (47 percent).

For example, someone calls another person names, uses foul language, puts him/her under pressure, abuses his/her power, or threatens with negative consequences. Or situations in which others gossip about someone, mock someone, defame someone, make fun of someone, make nasty remarks or “jokes”, deliberately ignore someone, exclude someone from participation, don’t invite someone to lunch or other social activities, criticize personal property, or someone’s personal life, damage property, make someone’s work unpleasant, or hinder someone, sabotage someone’s work, or check unnecessarily often or in detail. The 255 employees also mention discrimination (19 percent), unwanted sexual behavior or sexual harassment (8 percent), and physical violence (6 percent).

High work pressure, weak leadership, or external tensions, such as angry citizens at the counter, may cause more stress in the work place. More than 40 percent feel overloaded regularly, or almost always, in terms of workload. Think of the amount of work, unrealistic schedules, ad hoc activities, and an unclear division of roles, or tasks as causes. In addition, one third of the respondents indicate that they do not dare to express a different opinion within the organization.

Source: Wouter Boonstra, Binnenlands Bestuur.