But it’s not just a problem for the victim. It also results in productivity loss, rising absenteeism, low staff morale and copious time spent addressing claims.
Now, new research by the University of Wollongong has found that 50% of Australian employees will experience bullying at some point during their careers.
It also found that 40% of those bullied experienced it early in their careers and 5-7% have been bullied in the last six months.
Those who were found to be most at risk were young males who had limited social support and those who work in stressful environments.
The research defined workplace bullying as repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker that created a risk to health and safety.
This might include humiliation, isolation, withholding information, verbal abuse and spreading rumours.
The research involved more than 1,500 workers as part of the study and literature review, and was commissioned by beyondblue.
Meanwhile, the work safety watchdog WorkSafe Tasmania recently announced a $50,000 campaign to address bullying, as it is estimated to have cost the state’s taxpayers $10 million in the last three years.
This has included 462 claims which have resulted in an average of 42 days lost and approximately $22,000 per claim, according to WorkCover board member Rob Walters.
Workplace bullying is known to cause anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and even suicide.