Almost half of New Zealand workplaces don't have policies in place to deal with staff bullying and harassment, a new survey has found.

The New Zealand Diversity Survey, which was commissioned by Diversity Works New Zealand, found that just 56 per cent of the country's businesses have formal processes for handling such complaints.

Almost a quarter of workplaces have absolutely no framework to deal with bullying and harassment, while 26.7 per cent of workplaces reported incidents in the past 12 months.

Diversity Works NZ chief executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie said all organisations, even small businesses, had a responsibility to implement policies to protect staff.


While conflict at work was inevitable, if frameworks were not in place it could escalate into bullying, harassment or violence.

"Apart from the personal cost for individuals, it also comes with a huge cost for the business because the fall-out is higher stress levels and lower productivity, and higher absenteeism and turnover," Cassidy-Mackenzie said.

The survey also found that organisations were doing less to address diversity issues in the workplace, with the number of organisations considering them in relevant policies dropping from 51 per cent in October 2016 to 36 per cent last month.

It found that the diversity issues considered to be most important were wellness and wellbeing, flexibility, and aging.

More than 40 per cent of organisations had no policy or programme in place to deal with diversity issues of aging, gender, bias, ethnicity, employment transition for younger staff, religion and sexuality.

The survey, which, which took place in October 2016 using 909 responses, was produced by Associate Professor Gail Pacheco and Isabelle Bouchard, of AUT's Work Research Institute.