Byline: By Alan Jones Special correspondent
Firms were todayurged to do more to tackle bullying at work after new research showed the problem was costing businesses billions of pounds a year.
A report by Royal & Sun Alliance said bullying had become a "major cause" of stress for workers, leading to the loss of millions of days work.
One in four people said they were bullied at work and most said it affected their work, often leading to them taking time off.
Matt Witheridge, operations director of the Andrea Adams Trust, which campaigns against bullying, said, "Bullying really does happen in almost every employment scenario. 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."
Prof Binna Kandola, head of diversity at business psychology firm Pearn Kandola, said: "Companies need to have a mix of informal and formal routes to resolve incidents of bullying.
Often the person who is bullied does not want formal action taken against their colleague - they just want the behaviour to stop."
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said bullying and harassment were still "worryingly prevalent" in the workplace.
Diversity adviser Dianah Worman said: "Eliminating all forms of harassment and bullying makes good business sense. 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."
Today has been designated Ban Bullying at Work Day, and the Andrea Adams Trust will release balloons over London bearing antibullying messages to mark the day.
Meanwhile, the TUC has produced a guide to help union safety reps work with employers to create a culture where bullying, intimidation and harassment were outlawed. …