Kiwi workplaces, especially in the health and education sectors, are rife with office bullies.
The multi-university study of 1728 education, health, hospitality and travel sector workers found that nearly one in five had been bullied at work, and a further 75 percent of employees said they had suffered workplace stress at some point.
AdvertisementStudy leader Tim Bentley, associate head of Massey University's school of management, said bullying in the workplace was high generally, but "notably higher" in the health and education sectors.
That could be attributed to ineffective leadership - something that needed to be addressed.
"It has long been accepted that this is the way of working - if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen," the New Zealand Herald News quoted him as saying.
Auckland, Massey and Waikato universities collaborated on the research, with London's Birbeck University.
Workplaces Against Violence in Employment director Hadyn Olsen, said workplace bullying was a huge stress factor for many people - the majority of whom chose not to make a complaint or bring up the issue, out of fear of being bullied further.
Olsen said studies by his organisation showed up to 53 percent of people who do report being bullied got bullied even more.
"And so the stress factor is huge because they don't know when the next situation will be and they don't feel safe," he said.
Olsen said he had dealt with many types of bullying, which includes intimidation, behaviour that offends, making fun, undermining or excluding.
The more severe cases of workplace bullying include sexual harassment.
The research study, funded by the Department of Labour and Health Research Council, also found that employers across all those sectors surveyed did not understand, or know how to address the problem of workplace bullying.
Professor Bentley said there needed to be a cultural change within New Zealand workplaces, with a zero-tolerance policy on bullying.
"We need to be confident enough to challenge people if we see this happening," he said.
"And strategies need to be identified to prevent it in the workplace," he stated.
Olsen reiterated the idea, saying many Kiwi employers failed to go through a management development course or programme, which would help them understand the issue and, more importantly, address it.
"Part of the reason that workplace bullying is huge [in New Zealand] is that we don't invest in management development and especially in terms of dealing with conflict," Olsen said.
"Bullying thrives with management that doesn't know how to manage," he added.
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