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Half the population are bullied ... most only recognize it when they read this

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On this page
UK facts and figures on bullying
Cost of bullying to industry and taxpayers
Cost of bullying to employers
Legal costs
Cost to the individual and family
Value for money: are you happy with the way your money is being spent?

On another page
How bullies cost UK plc over 30 billion annually

Facts and figures

Bullying surveys

Date of
bullying survey

Survey origin Ratio of employees bullied % of workforce Number of employees bullied Bullied over the period...
Nov 1996 IPD 1 in 8 12 3.5m 5 years
Oct 1998 TUC 1 in 6 18 4.5m 1 year
Feb 2000 UMIST 1 in 4 25 7m 5 years
Oct 2003 CHI 1 in 3 37 10.4m 1 year
Apr 2002 Lyn Quine 1 in 3 37 10.5m 1 year
Jan 1999 Lyn Quine 1 in 3 38 10.5m 1 year
Jun 1994 SUBS 1 in 2 53 14m working life

On 28 November 1996 the Institute of Personnel and Development (IPD) published the results of a bullying survey revealing that 1 in 8 (around 3 million) UK employees have been bullied at work in the last five years. Over half of those who have experienced bullying say it is commonplace in their organisation and a quarter say it has got worse in the last year.

The largest number of calls to the TUC's Bad Boss Hotline in December 1997 concerned bullying (38%), well ahead of low pay (25%), contracts (15%), long hours (13%), unfair dismissal (11%), health & safety (11%), holidays (4%), racial harassment and discrimination (4%), sexual harassment and discrimination (3%), and age discrimination (2%). The TUC web site is at A TUC/NOP bullying survey in October 1998 suggested 1 in 6 employees experience bullying.

Research by Professor Cary Cooper and colleagues at UMIST published in February 2000 reveal that out of 5300 employees in 70 organisations, 47% reported witnessing bullying in the last five years, 1 in 10 (10.5%) said they'd been bullied in the last six months and 1 in 4 (24.4%) said they'd been bullied in the last 5 years. Those who reported being bullied within the last six months consistently reported the poorest health, the lowest work motivation, the highest absenteeism figures as well as the lowest productivity compared to those who were not bullied. Those who witnessed bullying at work were also more likely to report poor health and low morale than those who worked in bullying-free environments. The survey was supported by the TUC and CBI and funded by the British Occupational Health Research Foundation (BOHRF). See press releases on the TUC web site for more details.

A campaign for health Improvement (CHI) survey in October 2003 revealed that 37% of NHS staff had been bullied, harassed or abused by staff, managers or patients and their relatives.

A bullying survey by University of Kent at Canterbury researcher Lyn Quine of one NHS Community Trust in south east England published in the BMJ on 23 January 1999 found that 38% of nurses reported they had been bullied in the previous 12 months, with considerable impact on health, morale, and intention to leave the job or profession. (See survey in the BMJ, 22 January 1999). Another study of junior doctors by Lyn Quine published in April 2002 found that 37% reported being bullied in the previous year with Black and Asian doctors more likely to be bullied than other doctors. (See survey in the BMJ, 13 April 2002)

In 1994, Staffordshire University Business School published the results of Charlotte Rayner's survey suggesting that 53% of UK employees (around 14 million) have been bullied at work during their working life.

September 2005: Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) survey reveals bullying rife in universities; university HR departments protect institutions and help bullies rather than victims say respondents. [More]

September 2005: Chartered Management Institute (CMI) reveals bullying of middle management is rife; findings confirm what Bully OnLine and others have been saying for a decade: [More]

August 2005: Chartered Management Institute (CMI) report links bullying and poor productivity. [More]

August 2005: Main cause of poor productivity is bad management. [More]

May 2005: Two in every five employees in theatre and arts centres experience bullying. [More]

May 2005: Over half of staff 'get burn-out' ... a third suffered exhaustion, a quarter lost sleep or were ill from worry about work. [More]

May 2005: Stress costs 10% of the UKs Gross National Product (GNP) but fewer than 10 per cent of companies have official policy to tackle it. [More]

September 2004: a joint survey of HR professionals by Personnel Today and The Andrea Adams Trust reveals a "grim picture of harassment and intimidation in HR departments". [More]

November 2002: prompted by the success of BBC2's success The Office in which Ricky Gervais plays the part of incompetent manager David Brent, Newsnight on BBC2 asked the question, "Is David Brent typical of British Managers?" The programme revealed that:
a) UK productivity is 40% lower than the USA
b) the UK is 16th in the world league of competitiveness
c) a recent report [unspecified] said that Britain's manager are poorly qualified, poorly trained and poorly developed compared to our international counterparts

October 2002: the TUC believes wants employers to take more responsibility for preventing deaths from road accidents where employees drive on business.  Each year around 1000 employees are killed in road accidents on business, and there are around 12,000 serious injuries to driving workers, and 70,000 lesser injuries. Often the root causes behind the accidents - driver fatigue, poor state of company vehicle - never come to light. TUC General Secretary, John Monks, said: "Workers who drive for a living are more than three times more likely to be killed at work than any other worker. Aside from the pain and suffering caused to them and their families, this tragic toll is a massive 3.7 billion annual cost to society and a sky high 2.7 billion to employers."

September 2002: compensation payments awarded by UK employment tribunals rose by 10% last year 2001/2002. There was a 98% increase in the number of cases of compensation awarded for sex discrimination. The largest award was 1.4 million whilst the average award increased by nearly 75% to almost 20,000. The average award for disability discrimination increased by 80% [More]

12 July 2002: the National Employee Relationship report by research organisation Walker Information reveals that ethical standards and the personal integrity of senior staff are closely related to employee loyalty. Other loyalty factors included fair pay and evaluations, employee care, daily satisfaction and trust in employees. Less than 25% of employees surveyed felt truly loyal whilst many felt trapped.

29 April 2002: following a complaint by the union Amicus, the European Commission is to force the UK Government to comply with working time regulations. The British worker works on average 43.6 hours a week compared with the European average of 40.3 hours. The TUC estimates that more than 4 million people regularly work more than 48 hours a week with the average employee clocking up 5,000 of unpaid labour every year. [More]

24 April 2002: an article Occupational stress in consultants in accident and emergency medicine: a national survey of levels of stress at work in the Emergency Medicine Journal reveals that 10% of senior casualty doctors feel suicidal because of the workload and stress of the job. Around half report severe stress and 20% suffer depression.

15 March 2002: Workplace bullying's high cost: $180M in lost time, productivity, Liz Urbanski Farrell writes about the cost of bullying in the USA in the Orlando Business Journal

25 February 2002: the economic damage of bullying is discussed in an interview with Tim Field by Sam Vaknin for UPI.

2 February 2002: I've written an article The hidden cost of a bully on the balance sheet for the magazine Accounting & Business which reveals how much bullies are costing your organisation. (Warning - not suitable for employers of a nervous disposition)

5 November 2001: a confidential survey by Grampian University Hospitals Trust reported in The Scotsman reveals that nearly 50% of staff working for a leading hospitals trust have been bullied at work "Undue pressure to produce work" was the largest single cause of bullying. [More]  In June 2005 NHS Grampian had an outstanding debt of just under 11m and were ordered to cut their budget by 20 million. [More]

November 2001: a study by Proudfoot Consulting reveals that bad management, low employee morale and poorly-trained staff cost British business 117 lost working days a year. Bad management accounted for the biggest slice of unproductive days (65%), with low morale accounting for 17%. The study also suggested that in the UK 52% of all working time is spent unproductively compared to the European average of 43%.

October 2001: the results of a three-year survey of British workers by the Gallup Organization has revealed that many employers are not getting the best from their employees. The most common response to questions such as "how engaged are your employees?" and "how effective is your leadership and management style?" and "how well are you capitalising on the talents, skills and knowledge of your people?" was an overwhelming "not very much". The survey also found that the longer an employee stayed, the less engaged they became. The cost to UK plc of lost work days due to lack of engagement was estimated to be between 39-48 billion a year.

Workplace bullying costs Australian employers up to A$36 billion per year, reports Michael Sheehan from Griffith University's School of Management in Queensland.

The cost of violence and bullying at work, a report commissioned by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The Bristol Stress and Health at Work Study published by the HSE in June 2000 revealed that 1 in 5 workers (around 5.5m nationally) reported feeling extremely stressed at work. The main stress factors were having too much work and not being supported by managers. Reports of high stress levels were also linked with a range of health outcomes such as poor mental health and back pain, and health-related behaviours such as drinking alcohol and smoking. The Scale of Occupational Stress: The Bristol Stress and Health at Work Study, price 25 from HSE Books or tel 01787 881165, quote ref CRR 265/2000, ISBN 0 7176 1783 1.

A European Survey on Working Conditions carried out by The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions in 2000 found that 2% (3 million) workers are subjected to physical violence from people belonging to their workplace; 4% (6 million) workers are subjected to physical violence from people outside their workplace; 2% (3 million) workers are subjected to sexual harassment; and 9% (13 million) workers are subjected to intimidation and bullying. Click here for full survey.

A study by HSE published in June 2000 found that not having much say in how work is done is associated with poor mental health in men and a higher risk of alcohol dependence in women. Fast-paced work and the need to resolve conflicting priorities is linked with a higher risk of psychiatric disorder in both sexes and poor physical fitness or illness in men. A combination of putting high effort into work and poor recognition by managers is associated with increased risk of alcohol dependence in men, poor physical fitness or illness in women, and poor mental health in both sexes. Work related factors and ill health: the Whitehall II Study, price 10 from HSE Books, tel 01787 881165, quote ref CRR 266/2000, ISBN 0 7176 1784 X.

On 12 June 2000 a report Bullying and harassment in the workplace by the London Chamber of Commerce says that bullies cost UK industry around 2 billion each year. Around 19 million days are lost because of abuse which also results in accidents and mistakes, increased sick leave, lost productivity and higher recruitment costs. A copy of the report is available from London Chamber of Commerce & Industry, 33 Queen Street, London EC4R 1AP, tel 020 7203 1871, fax 020 7203 1863, email

In a survey of 200 nurses undertaken by Ulster University in 1999, almost 50% of nurses said they'd been bullied at work in the previous six months. Half the nurses surveyed reported they'd seen other nurses being bullied.

A poll of NHS nurses undertaken by Unison in 1999 found widespread disillusionment with the majority of nurses feeling underpaid, undervalued and overworked. 90% of nurses reported that workload and stress levels had increased whilst 75% felt their wage did not reflect their contribution. 20% said they had second jobs and over 50% had considered leaving the profession.

In 1998, a random survey of Unison members by Staffordshire University Business School found that 40% had either been bullied or witnessed bullying.

Teachers, nurses, social workers, and voluntary sector employees are the four largest groups of callers to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line. For Advice Line statistics click here.

Figures from The Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Sweden for 1998 reveal that most targets of bullying were 45-54 years old, with around two-thirds coming from social work, health care and education.

An International Labour Organisation (ILO) report in October 2000 revealed:

In a survey of 353 UK managers, 57% were considering leaving their jobs, citing as the main reasons increased workloads, poor management, lack of recognition, and lack of opportunities (Management Agenda 1999 report, Roffey Park Management Institute, Tel +44 1293 854038)

In 1998, 8.5 working days were lost per employee in the UK, equating to 3.7% of working time at an average cost of 426 per employee. The total cost to British business, including stress, poorer quality products and services, delays, lost business and customer dissatisfaction, could total 20 billion. (CBI survey)

1999: Gee Publishing, authors of Absence, an Audit of Cost Reduction Methods (129, 020 7393 7666), report that stress has overtaken the common cold as the Number One reason for sickness absence.

May 2000: Reports from the CBI and TUC indicate that absenteeism costs UK plc around 10.5 billion each year. Each week 500 people quit work forever due to work-related illness or injury.

Old attitudes such as stress being an excuse for skiving are still prevalent according to the British Safety Council. Around 20% of companies responding to a BSC survey in 1999 did not treat stress as a health and safety issue. Highest rates of absence were in the public sector, utilities and health, reflecting a similar pattern to callers to the UK National Workplace Advice Line.

The number of employees feeling secure at work has fallen from 76% in 1990 to 43% in 1997. High morale has declined from 52% to 39%. (Research group ISR, January 1997)

Over one third of British managers feel insecure at work, with 59% of junior and middle managers feeling insecure. (Employment Policy Institute, November 1996)

Among 25 to 49-year-olds - those most likely to be bringing up families - the UK has one of the lowest employment rates in Europe. (TUC, 1997)

UK males keep their jobs for 25% less time than 20 years ago, whilst the average number of jobs per lifetime has risen from 7 to 11. (Employment Policy Institute, November 1996)

It's estimated that fatigue caused by excessive stress accounts for around 1000 deaths on the road each year in the UK. (ROSPA) [More]

The cost of workplace accidents and ill-health in 1995/6 cost society between 14.5 billion and 18.1 billion. Since 1990 there has been a fall in the cost of workplace injuries but a rise in work-related illness. (HSE report, October 1999)

Work-related accidents and ill-health are responsible for 25 million working days lost at a cost of up to 18 billion annually. (Government statistics)

Of 3.7 million UK businesses, 67% (2.4m) have no employees, 22% (0.8m) have between 1 and 9 employees. (TUC, 1997)

Over the next 10 years, half of the 1.5m anticipated new jobs will be part-time, the rest self-employed. There are unlikely to be any new full-time jobs. In other words, the Government expects no increase in the number of new full-time jobs for a decade. (Research funded by the Department for Education and Employment, 1996)

The number of people covered by basic employment law has dropped from 91% in 1975 to 70% in 1997 (Employment Policy Institute, November 1997)

The last Conservative government wished to reduce employment rights of employees in small companies. (January 1997)

1.8 million is the number of people who qualify for Job Seekers Allowance, not the number of people out of work. Estimates of the number of people not working suggest 4-6 million. For instance there are 2.5 million people aged between 50-65 who are "economically inactive", ie do not have a job. Ageism is rife in the UK. The number of permanent full-time jobs - an accurate measure of economic performance through employers' confidence - is at a record low.

The last Conservative government believed existing legislation was adequate and did not wish to burden employers with further legislation.

UK employees work harder and longer (average 44.9 hours a week) than our European counterparts but are paid less (15,200 against the EU average of 17,270). UK industry lacks good managers and innovation, while its workforce has poor literacy and numeracy skills - a finding which conflicts with DfEE and Ofsted claims of "higher standards" in schools. (The UK Competitor Indicators Report, 13 December 1999)

Compared to other European countries, the UK has the...

I suspect the UK also has

It is tempting to identify a common cause: our bullying culture. Can anyone supply me with figures please?

Cost of bullying to industry and taxpayers

Estimates of the cost of stress and stress-related illness range from 5 billion (TUC) to 7 billion (IPD) to 12 billion (CBI) each year (that's around 500 each year for every working adult).

I estimate the cost of conflict at work - including physical violence, psychological violence and all consequential costs - is in excess of 30 billion annually, over 1000 hidden tax per working adult per year. Click here for how this figure is derived.

On average, sickness absence costs employers 485 per employee per year. (HSE)

On average, stress-related sickness absence costs employers between 530-545 per employee. (CBI)

Six million working days are lost annually because of stress caused by bullying, job insecurity, shift work and long hours. (HSE)

Each day 270,000 working days are lost to sickness absence at a cumulative annual cost to industry, NHS and taxpayers of 7 billion. (Institute of Management report, 1996). [270,000 divided by 240 working days per year equates to 1,125 years (over a millennium) of labour wasted every day]

Sickness absence accounts for 30 times the number of days lost in industrial disputes. (Department of Health)

Sickness among staff cost the NHS more than 300 million in 1997 in England alone. (Daily Telegraph, 25/3/98)

Sickness absence in Britain's police forces accounted for 1.5 million days in the year 1996-7. The Metropolitan Police lost 400,000 days to sickness absence at a cost to the taxpayer of 88 million. (National Audit Office)

Medical retirements from Britain's police forces cost the taxpayer 330 million in 1996-7. Disillusionment and bad management were cited as primary causes; the situation was described as the "medicalisation of dissatisfaction". (Official report)

Ageism is rampant in the UK and age discrimination is estimated to cost 26 billion a year. (Age Concern's Employers Forum on Age, November 1998)

A report in 2001 by the Employers' Forum on Age titled Ageism: Too Costly to Ignore, revealed that the number of people between the ages of 50-64 who were not in work and not seeking work had increased by 125,000 in the last two years. The authors of the report estimate that the cost to the UK's GDP of these lost workers is around 31 billion.

Cost of bullying to the employer

Legal costs

Cost to the individual and family

"For eighteen months I was tense, irritable, stressed, bewildered, repeatedly ill, and constantly fatigued; my poor wife and children bore the brunt and despite Herculean efforts on both sides our marriage eventually collapsed. I still feel extremely bitter that the cause of all this misery was a serial bully who, now that I'm out of the way, has sunk her claws into her next victim. Shortly after I left, her employer promoted her."

Value for money?

If you're wondering whether your investments, shareholdings, donations, income tax and council tax are being spent wisely, consider the following:

In 1994, the Health & Safety Executive estimated that the cost of stress and stress-related illness to industry and taxpayers was 4 BILLION a year.

In 1997, the CBI estimated that the cost of stress and stress-related illness to industry and taxpayers was 12 BILLION a year.

Up to one half of all stress-related illnesses are estimated to be caused by bullying. (UMIST)

Almost 75% of managers say stress adversely affects their health, happiness, home life, and performance at work.Only 30% believe their employer takes health and wellbeing seriously. Causes of stress cited include red tape, skills shortages, and the pressure to succeed. Pressure comprised deadlines, constant interruptions, lack of support, poor communication, incompetent senior managers, and poor internal communications. 10% of executives reported experiencing bullying and intimidation on a regular basis. Common stress symptoms included excessive tiredness, disturbed sleep, loss of temper, and lowered sex drive. (Research published by the Institute of Management and PPP Healthcare, Taking the strain, a survey of managers and workplace stress, Ruth Wheatley, Spring 2000, ISBN 0-85946-313-3, tel 020 7497 0580, Fax 020 7497 0463)

The US Office of Technology Assessment found in a study that "workplace monitoring leads to stress and stress-related illness".

In 1996 the number of claims referred to Industrial Tribunal exceeded 100,000 for the first time. What does all this time, energy, resources and money achieve?

In 1997, Industrial Tribunal cases totalled 107,000, including 42,800 claims of unfair dismissal, 6600 of sex discrimination, 2900 of racial discrimination, and 1400 for disability discrimination.

In Yeboah v. London Borough of Hackney (6 September 1998) former chief personnel officer Samuel Yeboah was awarded 750,000 compensation for years of discrimination by former director of housing Bernard Croftin. How many other cases are in the pipeline? When council tax rises are announced for April 1999, London Borough of Hackney council tax payers should remember how their council tax is being spent:

Inspection, auditing, monitoring and measuring (and snooping) etc cost around 1 BILLION a year in the UK. Most of this cost is borne by consumers and taxpayers. Who inspects the inspectors?

'1billion' inspection regime fails to raise standards claims Philip Hunter, president of the Society of Education Officers. '... the national curriculum, grant-maintained schools and OFSTED have done little to raise standards but have cost 3billion. It is a lot to pay for public confidence alone.' See the teachers page for information on bullying in education.

In some parts of the UK, one in nine women suffer domestic violence which costs the welfare state (taxpayers) an estimated 1 BILLION a year (source: Counting the Costs, commissioned by the Children's Society and Hackney Safer Cities, January 1998). The perpetrator is often a serial bully.

The Millennium Dome is estimated to cost 1 BILLION.

No help with 3 billion computer bug: local authorities and public sector bodies face a 3 BILLION bill to fix the millennium computer bug. (TES, 3/4/98) [I do sympathise: chief executives have only had 1,000 years' notice]


Bullies bully to hide their inadequacy; people who bully to hide their inadequacy are often incompetent. Serial bullying is a lifetime behaviour, and this type of bully has done it before, is doing it now, and will do it again. If you have a serial bully operating (and surviving and thriving), they are usually supported by their manager, and so on all the way to the top. The person who asserts their right not to be bullied is blowing the whistle on incompetence.

The Government believes that employees should be able to work without fear of being bullied and harassed. A framework of comprehensive employment rights exists which protects employees against unreasonable treatment by their employers (sic). (Department of Trade and Industry, 1996) See inadequacies of UK law on the legal page.

Of over 10,000 Advice Line bullying cases only around 2% make it to employment tribunal and only around half succeed; of these, only about half win more compensation than the legal bill. In most cases the employee has lost their job, career, livelihood, health, and often marriage, whilst the bully has been promoted and is busy destroying his or her next target.

Statistics from the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line are on a separate page.

Links to sources of information and statistics

The official UK statistics site

Latest inflation and average earnings

National Institute of Social and Economic Research

European comparative statistics

UK government signposter to web sites of local authorities and councils

Health and safety in the UK


European TUC

Where now at Bully OnLine?
How can I recognise that I'm being bullied?
What is bullying and why me? | Definitions of bullying
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about bullying
Overcoming myths, misperceptions and stereotypes
The answer to Why don't you stand up for yourself?
Bullying and vulnerability
Why have my colleagues deserted me?
What's the difference between bullying and mobbing?
What is harassment and discrimination?
Why grievance procedures are inappropriate for dealing with bullying
The difference between bullying and management
Facts, figures, surveys, costs of bullying | Cost of bullying to UK plc
UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line statistics
Profile of the serial bully - who does this describe in your life?
Antisocial Personality Disorder | Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Paranoid Personality Disorder | Borderline Personality Disorder
Bullies and attention-seeking behaviour
Munchausen Syndrome and MSBP
Information for nurses | Information for voluntary sector employees
Information for teachers being bullied
Bullying of lecturers in further education
Bullying of lecturers in higher education
Bullying in the social services sector
Bullying in the public sector - the political dimension and
why trade unions fail to support their members

Bullying in the military | Bullying of students
Scheduled training and conferences on bullying | Other events about bullying
Articles on bullying available online
Bullying on TV, radio and in print media
Requests to take part in surveys etc | Bullying issues needing research
Tim Field's quotes on bullying | Vision for bullying
Feedback about Bully OnLine | Survivor testimonies
The Secret Tragedy of Working: Work Abuse - PTSD Chauncey Hare
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