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About time we banish bullies from workplace; MANAGEMENT.

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.

The new guide cites recent research from the University of Manchester which suggests that one in 10 workers was bullied in the last six months, one in four have fallen victim in the last five years, and half of employees have witnessed bullying at work.

The TUC guide says that anyone can find themselves on the receiving end of an attack from a workplace bully, and bullies can be colleagues or managers. Managers are often bullied by their bosses too.

Worst of all, says the guide, are those workplaces where a culture has developed that condones the criticism of staff in front of colleagues, or that allows bullies to shout at colleagues, regularly make an individual the butt of jokes, or send victims abusive emails or texts at work.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "People on the receiving end of cutting remarks or verbal outbursts from the workplace bully are the ones paying a heavy price for employers' failure to deal with the problem.

"The stress and anxiety felt by the victims can make them physically ill, lose their selfconfidence and leave them dreading work.

"But employers pay the price as well. Staff being bullied are likely to take more time off because the harassment is making them ill and the low morale they suffer as a result almost always affects their ability to do their job, making them much less productive.

"Bullying is not hard to tackle and employers who ignore the problem and fail to protect their staff are breaking the law. Every workplace should have a policy which makes clear that intimidating behaviour towards colleagues will not be tolerated and that those who persist in undermining their fellow members of staff will be dealt with severely."


Brendan Barber: Victims paying a high price
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Nov 7, 2007
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