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LONDON (Reuters) - Bullying in the workplace is far too widespread and bosses are not doing enough to tackle the problem, a report said on Friday.
The Chartered Management Institute (CMI), which published the study, said poor managerial skills were mainly to blame and employers were failing in their legal duty to protect staff.
"In the current economic climate, the pressure to deliver is more acute than ever, but the need to perform should not be seen as an excuse to bully," said Jo Causon, director of marketing and corporate affairs at the CMI.
"Without strong but fair leadership how can working environments be productive and how can employers hope to motivate staff in what are already trying times?"
The CMI said government figures indicated that workplace bullying cost the British economy 13.75 billion pounds and 100 million days in lost productivity a year.
The report, based on the views of 867 managers in the private, public and voluntary sectors, said the failure to educate staff better could risk long-term damage to their businesses.
The study found 70 percent of managers had witnessed instances of bullying in the last three years while the extent of bullying reported was higher than in a previous report in 2005.
Not all cases involved bosses bullying their staff, with 63 percent of respondents citing incidents involving bullying between peers while 30 percent had witnessed subordinates bullying their manager.
More than one in three who experienced bullying said their organization took no action.
"A lack of management skills" was cited by 70 percent of respondents as the root cause of bullying. Fifty-seven percent also said "personality clashes" were a problem while 48 percent listed "authoritarian management styles" as a critical factor.
Firms were also rated poorly when it came to dealing with problems, with 35 percent saying they felt their organization was ineffective at deterring bullying.
On a positive note, more firms were introducing a formal bullying policy, the CMI said.
Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison