More Than Half of Canadians Have Endured Workplace Abuse

One-in-four Canadians who endured harassment say the experience compelled them to switch jobs or leave a company.

Vancouver, BC [October 20, 2020] – A majority of Canadians have endured abuse at the workplace during their careers, including overwork, name calling and intimidation, a new Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample, more than half of Canadians (53%) acknowledge having experienced at least one of five different negative actions during the course of their working lives.

One-in-four Canadians (25%) faced actions that amount to overwork, such as being placed under undue pressure or given impossible deadlines.

Similar proportions of Canadians have experienced actions that threatened their personal standing, such as innuendo, sarcasm and jokes (22%) and actions that threatened their professional status, such as belittling opinions in a public setting or public professional humiliation (also 22%).

Fewer than one-in-five Canadians faced actions that are meant to destabilize, such as allocation of meaningless tasks and being set up for failure (18%) and actions that amount to isolation, such as withholding necessary information, ignoring or excluding (16%).

“Canadians aged 18-to-34 are more likely to have had their professional status threatened in the workplace (28%) than their older counterparts,” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “Conversely, Canadians aged 35-to-54 are more likely to have experienced overwork (29%) and threats to their personal standing (26%).”

A third of Canadians who experienced any one of the five types of negative actions at work (33%) discussed the situation with family and/or friends, while one-in-four (25%) decided to leave the company or switch jobs. 

Fewer Canadians who endured negative actions at work chose to report the behaviour to the appropriate department or person (19%), took time off work or went on an extended leave (12%) or sought professional help to deal with health problems, such as low moods or depression (10%).

More than four-in-five Canadians (82%) think it is necessary for Canada to enact legislation that would provide protection to all workers from repeated abusive mistreatment at the workplace.

Just under one-in-four Canadians have experienced verbal abuse from a superior or boss at work (23%) or verbal abuse from a teacher at school (21%). 

While only 11% of Canadians have experienced verbal abuse from a sports coach, the proportion climbs to 19% among those aged 18-to-34.

Canadians aged 55 and over are more likely to report enduring physical abuse from a teacher at school (12%, compared to the Canada-wide average of 8%). 

Results are based on an online study conducted from September 18 to September 20, 2020, among a representative sample of 1,000 adults in Canada. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Find our data tables here and download the press release here. 

For more information on this poll, please contact:

Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.