Workplace bullying is growing in Britain and many people are too afraid to speak up about it, according to a new study.
The report by Acas, which specialises in advice for employers and employees, highlights that its helpline received around 20,000 calls related to bullying and harassment over the past year.
Some callers said the situation caused them to self-harm or consider suicide.
Acas chair, Sir Brendan Barber, said: “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.
“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 whilst others may recognise the problem but lack the confidence or skills to deal with it.
“Businesses should be taking workplace bullying very seriously as the annual economic impact of bullying-related absences, staff turnover and lost productivity is estimated to be almost £18 billion.”
Charlotte Woolven-Brown, an employment law specialist at Palmers, said: “When viewed in the context of productivity and therefore turnover, bullying is clearly an issue that employers should take seriously. They also must consider the fact that it is potentially actionable. To be sure of the standards that need to be upheld, firms should seek the advice of legal experts who specialise in employment issues. For more information, please contact us.