Victims of bullying are likely to earn lower than average wages, according to research to be published in the International Journal of Manpower.

The study, led by Dr Nick Drydakis of Anglia Ruskin University, found that childhood bullying can lead to significant economic implications later in life.

On average, victims of bullying earned 2.1% less than the average wage, were 3.3% less likely to be in employment, and were 4.1% less likely to be participating in the labour market (either in employment or actively looking for work).

The sample consisted of 7,500 respondents, aged between 18 and 65, who took part in the Greek Behavioural Study, with 8.4% of the respondents admitting to have been bullied on a frequent or constant basis.

The study discovered a negative correlation between bullying and human capital, with those who experienced bullying as a child 18.5% less likely to have a higher education degree or advanced IT and language skills.

It also found that gays, lesbians, immigrants and men are more negatively affected by bullying in terms of labour force participation, employment rate and wages. For instance, gay and lesbian people who experienced bullying as a child face 12.4% lower wages, immigrants face 4.1% lower wages and men face 6.1% lower wages.

Dr Drydakis, a Senior Lecturer in Economics at Anglia Ruskin, said: “Individuals without a history of being bullied have a higher probability of participating in the labour force, being employed, and receiving higher wages.

“On the other hand, individuals who experienced a serious intensity of bullying face the most statistically significant negative effects in terms of lower participation in the labour force, lower employment rates, and lower hourly wages.

“Most economic literature on the determination of wages has concentrated on traditional human capital variables, such as education and skills.  However, as the effects of bullying may affect individuals’ employment future, bullying should be of greater interest to economists.”

Jonathan Frodsham, General Manager at Bournes Group comments: “Recent studies showing a direct link between childhood bullying and lower that average wages comes as no surprise to us here at Bournes Ltd.

“Bullying, at any point in a person’s life, can have real, quantifiable & long-term negatives effects on a person’s wellbeing, both mentally, physically, and also, as this study shows, financially. The reasons for this can be countless, varying from individual to individual, but it largely boils down to the crushing of an persons spirit, thus making the individual feel that they are less worthy of their role or place, and less likely to feel that their opinion is of any worth. We feel that a learning or working environment must be, essentially, a place where everyone feels able to voice their opinion, and push their ideas and thoughts forward, thus allowing Bournes Ltd to expand, whilst retaining that ‘family” feel, where everyone’s opinion is valued and important”

“Bullying is abhorrent, unacceptable and a blight on society, whoever the victim is, be it a child at school, leading to long term consequences in relation to self confidence, earning and education prospects, or an adult who is a victim of bullying within the workplace, leading to stress, illness and, from an employer’s perspective, a negative working environment.

“Everybody has the right to express themselves freely and to live their life as they see fit, and no individual should be allowed to be put down, victimised or made to feel like they are worthless.

“A concerted effort must be made by society at large to remove the scourge of bullying from modern life, and allow every individual to grow and flourish to their maximum potential, only then can we consider ourselves to actually be a true, modern, inclusive society”.

Charles Millett, employment law partner at Morecrofts Solicitors comments on bullying in the workplace: “Where someone feels they are being bullied at work, the typical process involves lodging a grievance complaint and ultimately considering a case for constructive dismissal.This has been the state of play for some time, yet it is fair to suggest that the introduction of fees in tribunal cases may deter some from bringing such a claim.

‘The challenge for employers is not to cross the dividing line between firm management and bullying. Where someone fails to meet a target, for example, one would expect them to be challenged about it, however when such treatment becomes oppressive or personal, that’s when employers stray beyond that very thin line.

“Businesses can protect themselves and their employees by having a clear grievance procedure. This is a legal requirement and means staff members know where to go and who to tell if they are being bullied and can also trust that it will be dealt with seriously, rather than as a petty annoyance.

“Employers should also have a strict bullying and harassment policy which sets out exactly what constitutes bullying and forbids any employees from engaging in such activity. Where there is said to be bullying on the basis of disability, age, race, religion and belief, sexual orientation or gender, firms risk a separate grievance and claim against them, so it is in everyone’s interest to have a policy set out.

“For anyone who has been bullied in the past, confidence tends to play a key role in their professional development. We live in a world of business where the confident typically get ahead while those lacking in confidence are left at a major disadvantage.

“Employers should feel comfortable sending staff on training courses that can help re-bridge that gap, whether it’s to directly build their assertiveness or simply plug a skills gap created by previous problems.

“However, they should also be careful to brooch this subject with sensitivity, or else risk making the employee feel railroaded into something or, indeed, bullied. “