Customers cross the line

38.9% of people say they have experienced harassment in the workplace involving their clients according to a survey by Talent2, Australias leading recruitment and human resources firm.

Clients are sacred and can get away with almost anything in most Australian workplaces, with more than a third of all people saying they would hesitate to report harassment by a major client or customer of their firm, according to the 1,960 respondents to the survey.

Those in the property sector are the most fearful of their clients, with 42.9% saying they would not report sexual harassment, abusive phone calls and unrealistic deadlines in order to get a sale. Those in the legal profession also report an extremely high level of tolerance for abusive clients (37.5%)

Craig Sneesby of Talent2 says that there is an interesting trend when it comes to harassment by clients. Imagine a bell-curve. Those on the lower and the upper ends of the earning-spectrum are less likely to have experienced harassment, while those in middle-management are the most likely to have experienced harassment by clients

"It is surprising that those in the lower-end of the earning spectrum have not reported a higher incidence of harassment. They are usually the front-line when facing customers or clients. "

"Those in middle management, bearing the brunt of client or customer interaction need to be trained by their employer on how to deal with situations such as verbal abuse, unreasonable deadlines and other client demands."

"At the senior end of the spectrum, most client interaction comes down to negotiation and is usually relationship driven, rather than transactionally driven."