The survey by Samaritans, a charity which offers help to those in emotional distress, found that more than 80 percent of workers had been bullied during their careers and a third dreamed of moving abroad to escape the stress of their job.
"Job-related stress has a serious and unrecognised impact on the health of the nation and the economy, affecting concentration and efficiency," said the charity's Joe Ferns.
The study of 2,100 British workers and 500 from the Republic of Ireland found managers, clients and customers were most responsible for the bullying, with younger staff the most vulnerable.
The charity found that 32 percent felt their employers turned a blind eye to the problem while 43 percent felt their managers tried to get as much out of them as possible, regardless of their stress levels.
One half had seen a colleague reduced to tears because of pressure.
No comparable research has been done in South Africa, but there is no reason to believe things are any different in local workplaces.
"These results really disturb me. Shouldn't we be managing people by reward and praise rather than by fault-finding and bullying?" said Professor Cary Copper, an expert on workplace stress, in an accompanying statement. – (Reuters Health)