KU Leuven develops screening tool for unacceptable behaviour in the workplace

KU Leuven has developed a tool that allows faster and better screening of undesirable behaviour in the workplace. The university announced this in a press release on Tuesday, saying that current methods are not always sufficient to quickly identify and address problematic behaviour.

The Combat Harassment Tool, or CHAT, is a digital survey that screens for key risk factors for transgressive behaviour. Through an automatically generated feedback report, an employer gets a better picture of the social climate within a particular group of employees: the presence of violence, bullying and sexually transgressive behaviour, the type of perpetrator and possible burnout symptoms caused by the behaviour.

Serious harassment and sporadic bullying

In the Flemish workplace, 2.4 per cent of employees are victims of serious harassment. This is according to a 2022 KU Leuven analysis of more than 16,000 employees from 78 organisations. Sporadic bullying affects almost 15 per cent of employees.

The main reason for bullying behaviour at work seems to be qualitative job insecurity. Employees fear their job content and working conditions will deteriorate, or they are uncertain about working with colleagues and managers. This insecurity contributes to a stressful and competitive work environment that is conducive to bullying behaviour and difficulties addressing it.

"Harassment does not just happen"

Other important risk factors are strong disagreements between employees, high workloads and passive managers who do not intervene or do not intervene enough. "Harassment does not just happen," says Professor Elfi Baillien (KU Leuven), who specialises in wellbeing at work. "The big drivers of unwanted behaviour occur in the work context. Organisations that want to work towards a healthy psychosocial climate should therefore try to identify these risk factors quickly."


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