Byline: By Aled Blake Western Mail
Bullying in work affects at least 10% of employees and tackling the problem can improve companies' performances, a conference heard yesterday.
The trade union Unite told delegates at the meeting in Cardiff that the current shortage of skilled labour across Wales highlights an increasing need for organisations to adopt a zero tolerance approach to bullying.
Companies should also have anti-bullying and harassment policies in place.
Bullying in the workplace costs the UK economy pounds 2bn each year through sick pay, staff turnover and loss of production, according to Unite.
The union representatives were in Wales to promote its Dignity at Work Partnership, a joint initiative run with the Department of Trade and Industry.
Mandy Telford, Unite's dignity at work co-ordinator, said, "Bullying is indiscriminate, it can affect everyone, and anyone can become a bully. Promoting a workplace environment where bullying is not tolerated gives workers greater willingness to accept change, learn new skills, have a greater pride in their job and produce higher standards or work.
"We have learnt that it is essential that unions and employers work together to combat bullying , a zero tolerance approach has to be adopted. We need to be sharing the lessons we've learnt so we can affect culture change across workplaces in the UK because it is such a big problem."
Ms Telford said she believed the problem to be even greater than the one in 10 who admit they are affected by bullying.
"People are often unaware they are being bullied and often they are not prepared to admit they are being bullied because of the stigma attached," she said.
"It can happen in a variety of ways, from being shouted down in public to a drip-drip effect of constant comments and little jibes about your performance or your image.