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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 November 2007, 12:52 GMT
Concern over workplace bullying
Stressed office worker
Bullying takes place in many workplaces, campaigners say
Bullying at work has affected one in four workers and the issue is a "major cause" of stress in the workplace, research has suggested.

The report, by insurance company Royal & Sun Alliance, said bullying often led people to take time off work.

It said the loss of working days was costing businesses billions of pounds.

A guide from the TUC says bullying is worst in places where staff are criticised in front of colleagues, shouted at, or made the butt of jokes.

The issue has gained a high profile in recent years as trade unions have campaigned against the stress it causes to staff.

For their part, many employers have realised that it leads to demoralised workers, with staff taking time off work or being forced to leave their jobs.

Widespread problem

The research from Royal & Sun Alliance was released to coincide with "Ban Bullying at Work" day, which is being organised by the Andrea Adams Trust.

Eliminating all forms of harassment and bullying makes good business sense
Dianah Worman, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

"Bullying really does happen in almost every employment scenario," said the Trust's Matt Witheridge.

"Industries that are affected most are those with a very hierarchical management structure, high-pressure jobs where staff can be seen as fairly expendable and also in very small, sometimes family-run businesses, which fall beneath the radar of union involvement and have no policies on bullying."

A year ago, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that disabled workers and those from ethnic minorities were the most likely to feel they had been bullied.

Dianah Worman of the CIPD said it was still worryingly prevalent.

"Eliminating all forms of harassment and bullying makes good business sense," she said.

"A workplace environment which is free from hostility enables people to contribute more effectively to organisational success and to achieve higher levels of job satisfaction."

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