One in five employees ‘bullied’ at National Museum of Ireland

More than 40% of staff at risk of developing depression, according to unpublished report

Workplace report claims staff at the National Museum of Ireland were subject to bullying. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Workplace report claims staff at the National Museum of Ireland were subject to bullying. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Employees at the National Museum of Ireland claim excessive drinking, “bullies” and “perverts” are endangering their welfare.

A psychotherapist who worked with the institution says her concerns around workplace bullying were ignored.

More than 40 per cent of staff at the National Museum of Ireland are at risk of developing anxiety or depression; according to an unpublished report into employee wellbeing at the institution.

One in five employees at the institution are “often” or “always” subjected to bullying.

Another 20 per cent said they were “sometimes” the victims of bullying, while one employee complained of having to deal with “bullies and perverts”.

The findings are contained in The Work Positive Profile Management Report, obtained by RTÉ; which was completed last November.

A total of 96 out of the 150 staff at the workplace completed the survey. Four in five had been working for the institution for five years or more.

Separately; the museum has also revealed how it employed the services of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre to provide dignity at work training workshops

The survey found:

– Over 40 per cent of employees at the institutions are deemed to be at risk of developing anxiety or depression; as measured by an index supplied by the World Health Organisation.

– Almost 70 per cent of respondents feel employee morale is poor to very poor- with poor communication and a lack of trust at the museum.

– 7 in 10 employees want mental health support to help deal with stress and depression.

– Staff contentedness at the museum is in the bottom 20 per cent of Irish companies.

The report also reveals how staff wanted “social activities not involving the pub” as well as counselling; anger management and to know “how to deal with bullies and perverts”.

It concludes that an unacceptably high number of staff endure personal harassment or friction with colleagues

A psychotherapist, who was employed by the National Museum to provide an employee assistance programme, claims her concerns around workplace bullying were ignored by museum management and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

The revelations have prompted calls for the Minister for Arts Heather Humphreys to appear before an Oireachtas committee to discuss matters at the institution; and to address an allegation her department failed to act when alerted to alleged bullying.

Stephanie Regan, who worked with the institution between 2008 and 2012, says the atmosphere remains toxic at the museum.

“Over time I heard a number of stories that were very disturbing; and they were that people had made complaints and those complaints were taken off the file,” she told RTÉ’s Drivetime.

“I am over 25 years doing this work. I never heard the story being so consistent and coming from individuals not in the same room. The toxic nature of what was presented; that is what is so awful . . . relentless and systematic.”

Ms Regan alleged “very senior people” were involved in the alleged bullying. She said she made her concerns clear to management, Ms Humphreys and former minister Jimmy Deenihan, but the concerns were ignored.

The Chair of the Oireachtas Arts and Heritage Committee Peadar Tóibín is demanding representatives from the National Museum, the Department of the Arts and Ms Humphreys urgently come before his committee to address what he claims is a “HR crisis . . . wasting taxpayers money”.

In a statement; the museum said it had taken a range of actions since the health and wellbeing report.

“These include the setting up of a museum council, a staff consultation forum and improvements in communications between staff and management.”

The department said Ms Humphreys has no involvement in the day-to-day running of the National Museum of Ireland.

“The board should promote the development of the capacity of the State body including the capability of its leadership and staff. The board is also responsible for holding the CEO and senior management to account for the effective performance of their responsibilities,” it added.