Workforce absences and turnover take huge toll on productivity
HUGE numbers of people are being bullied at work, costing Britain’s economy £18 billion, damning findings published today show.
Women, ethnic minorities, LGBT people, those aged 40 to 59 and disabled people are the most likely targets to suffer abuse at work, two separate studies into workplace bullying revealed.
Conciliation service Acas said its helpline has been swamped with 20,000 calls related to bullying and harassment in the past year.
Some callers said they were considering suicide because the bullying was so bad, the service said.
Others feared going to work or said their home life had been tarnished, while fearing retribution if they spoke out. Managers often just move staff around rather than deal with bullies, according to the research.
Acas is urging businesses to take action, saying the problem costs the economy £18bn every year in absences, staff turnover and lost productivity.
“Our analysis reveals that bullying is on the rise in Britain and it is more likely to be found in organisations that have poor workplace climates where this type of behaviour can become institutionalised,” said Acas chairman Brendan Barber.
“Callers to our helpline have experienced some horrific incidents around bullying that have included humiliation, ostracism, verbal and physical abuse.
“But managers sometimes dismiss accusations around bullying as simply personality or management-style clashes, while others may recognise the problem but lack the confidence or skills to deal with it.”
A second study by the TUC, which surveyed 1,700 adults, found one third had been bullied at work.
Nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) of bullying is carried out by a manager and more than one in three people leave their job after being bullied, it found.
“There is no place for bullies in the modern workplace,” said TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady.
“Bullying causes stress and anxiety and can have long-term effects on victims’ physical and mental health. No-one should have to leave their job because of bullying.
“If bullies are allowed to dominate a workplace, wider office morale and productivity suffers too. Employers must have a zero-tolerance policy.
“Anyone worried about bullying at work should join a union, to get their voice heard and their interests represented.”
The TUC poll was carried out by YouGov and released to coincide with the start of Anti-Bullying Week.