Up to 200,000 employees - one in 10 - are victims of workplace bullying, new research suggests.

The two-year research project undertaken by academics at three universities surveyed 1600 employees from 20 organisations in the hospitality, health and education sectors.

Preliminary results showed one in 10 workers had been bullied by a colleague in the past six months, the Sunday Star Times reported.

Figures extrapolated to the full working population suggested as many as 200,000 people were being bullied at work.

Waikato University organisational psychologist Michael O'Driscoll said workers were asked if they had been intimidated or abused at work, if their efforts had been sabotaged and what, if anything, was done about it.

The researchers defined bullying as a situation in which a person felt they had been repeatedly subjected to the negative actions of co-workers.

The research aimed to show how workplace bullying affected workers' health, wellbeing and job performance.

"There are definite negative effects for individuals and for organisations," Mr O'Driscoll said. "People being bullied are experiencing high levels of work-based stress which you would then expect to flow on into physical symptoms."

Final results will not be available until the end of the year.