Workplace bullying costs UK economy £18bn a year

Here’s how bullying and harassment have a direct impact on businesses

Workplace bullying is on the rise, and it is bad news all round.

Since 1998, incidences of workplace bullying have risen by 4%, hitting the economy to the tune of £17.65bn a year – roughly 1.5% of GDP.

According to a new study by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) the number of people contacting the service has grown to 20,000 a year seeking advice on workplace bullying and harassment.

The report highlights how bullying can have many direct costs to companies, including:

• Sickness and absenteeism

• Higher labour turnover (including the loss of people who are trained and experienced)

• Lower organisational performance and quality of service

• Reduced productivity

• Employee assistance/counselling and occupational health costs

• Industrial action and unrest

• Loss of public goodwill and reputational damage

• Lost organisational resources and management time

• Financial penalties and compensation costs, as well as the costs of litigation

Sir Brendan Barber, chairman of Acas, said: “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.”

He added: “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.”

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