Bullying in information technology

As a result of advances in technology, information technology has become a highly important economic sector. Although it is relatively new, this industry still experiences many of the workplace culture problems of older industries. Bullying is common in IT, leading to high sickness rates, low morale , poor productivity and high staff turnover . [1] Deadline-driven project work and stressed-out managers take their toll on IT professionals. [2]

Bullying in IT is as commonplace downwards hierarchical (such as manager to employee) but can also be horizontal (such as employee to employee) or upwards hierarchical. [1]


In 2002, a survey of UK staff by Mercer Human Resource Consulting found that 21% of respondents in the IT industry have been bullied once or more in the past year. Seven per cent claimed to have suffered chronic bullying. [3]

In 2005, the Chartered Management Institute conducted a survey of IT Managers that found more than three out of 10 managers who had been bullied during the last three years. [4]

In 2008, the Chartered Management Institute conducted a survey of IT managers who found that 61% witnessed bullying between peers and 26% had witnessed subordinates bullying their managers. [5] [6]

In 2008, a survey carried out by trade union Unite of IT professionals showed 65% believed they had been bullied at work, and 22% had taken time off work because of stress caused by bullying. [7] [8]

In 2014 IDG Connect conducted research that showed that 75% of 650 IT professionals surveyed had 85% [9] This report is part of an extensive series of articles conducted by the editor. [10]

The press release stated: “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, through a blend of new statistics, detailed feedback from over 400 in-depth testimonials, along with insight from a Range of industry experts, this postponement paints a pretty picture of a comprehensive Seemingly endemic problem. ” [11]


Impacts of a bullying culture can include: [1] [2]

  • Victims are stressed and taken more sick leave
  • Damage to the productivity, morale and performance of the whole company
  • High staff turnover which may exacerbate any skill shortages
  • Giving a company a bad reputation , making it harder to get good staff and get new business.


Victims reported: [1] [2]

  • Unachievable deadlines (see setting up to fail )
  • Excessive monitoring and supervision (see micromanagement )
  • Constant criticism on minor matters (see hypercriticism )
  • Being ridiculed, humiliated and intimidated
  • Being marginalised and asked to do pointless or ill-defined work below their capabilities.
  • Being ostracised (see social rejection )

Comments from victims and researchers

Comments from victims and researchers include: [1] [2] [12]

  • Internal grievance procedures are commonly not impartial and are open to abuses of power – the bully may have a close relationship with the investigating party and there may be conflicts of interest (see quasi-judicial )
  • Complaining against the bully may make the bullying worse and the victim may fear repercussions
  • Victims often conclude that the only solution is to leave the company or the information technology altogether
  • IT skills may be technically brilliant but often social skills ( soft skills )
  • Some managers may be technically “hands-off” and feel threatened by the technical skills of their subordinates
  • There is often a culture of cronyism , protectionism and jobs for the boys
  • Middle managers are prone to being bullied from above and / or below in the hierarchy
  • A high percentage of senior IT management possess very poor people skills or may have a narcissistic personality
  • Mediation: A Practical Guide to Medicine
  • A system to report bullying anonymously may be helpful
  • Victims often have misplaced loyalty with a company and stay too long trusting that they would get support
  • Bullying in IT is often encouraged and institutionalized as a way of boosting competitiveness among employees
  • Information Technology bullies may use their computer skills to hack into their victim’s computers and / or participate in cyberbullying against their victim

Case studies

  • Collins T Bullied NHS information manager gets £ 150,000 Computer Weekly 13 January 2010
  • Customer services manager for software development department in a government organization being white Privatized Case Histories at BullyOnline No 2 – Tim Field
  • Bullying in computing and IT in the NHS Case Histories at BullyOnline No 42
  • Bullying in the Computing Industry – Case Histories at BullyOnline No 100
  • Bullied IT project manager

See also

  • Counterproductive work behavior
  • destabilization
  • Toxic leader
  • Workplace bullying


  1. ^ Jump up to:A b c d e Marcello C Perceptions of Workplace Bullying Among IT Professionals (2010)
  2. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Thomson IT profession blighted by bullying Computer Weekly 3 April 2008
  3. Jump up^ Towner NOne in five IT workers gets bulliedComputer Weekly 23 October 2002
  4. Jump up^ Shifrin TBullying is widespread, survey showsComputer Weekly 27 September 2005
  5. Jump up^ Swabey PIT sector failing to tackle workplace bullying – reportArchivedJuly 20, 2011, at theWayback Machine. Information Age 6 November 2008
  6. Jump up^ FlindersMost IT managers have witnessed bullying this year, research showsComputer Weekly 6 November 2008
  7. Jump up^ “IT workers suffer bullying”, claims unionBT Business
  8. Jump up^ Thomson RIT workers being bullied, says UnionComputer Weekly 24 March 2008
  9. Jump up^ Cave, Kathryn (4 August 2014). “IT Careers: Success vs. Bullying” . IDG Connect . Retrieved 16 October 2014 .
  10. Jump up^ Farmer, Pam (11 September 2014). “Bullying: The Uncomfortable Truth About IT” . Pam Farmer . Retrieved 16 October 2014 .
  11. Jump up^ Cave, Kathryn (4 August 2014). “IDG Connect Research Shows 75% of IT Professionals Surveyed Report Being Bullied at Work” . Real Wire . Retrieved 16 October 2014 .
  12. Jump up^ McLaughlin GIT Contractors being bullied at work ArchivedMarch 22, 2012, at theWayback Machine. IT Contractor 8 April 2008

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