Cyberbullying is now becoming a problem in the workplace. Because employers are required by law to provide a working environment that’s safe, it’s an issue for CEOs.
HR Online reports that researchers at the University of Sheffield and the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom have released results of three separate surveys of employees questioned at several universities which find that about 80 percent of the 320 respondents said they had experienced work-related cyberbullying at least once in the previous six months, and 14 to 20 percent of them said this happened to them at least once a week. A majority of respondents in each of the surveys were women - from 60 percent to 75 percent.
According to the social media consultants at Defining Social, cyber bullying is ever increasing and is a major challenge for organisations today.
Mark Veitch, the CEO of Defining Social says: “Any organisation can be exposed to workplace cyber bullying. Workplace cyber bullying doesn’t discriminate against an industry or size of a business. Workplace cyber bullying can also lead to affecting the organisation’s reputation if the organisation doesn’t recognise and successfully manage the workplace cyber bullying. For any business to have their reputation tarnished due to workplace bullying is reason enough to take preventative measures against cyber bullying”.
To combat this, IHR Australia recommend several strategies.
First, employers should ensure there is a social media policy in place that makes reference to cyber bullying and responsible use of the Internet and social media. The policy has to draw the distinction between work and home. Secondly, employees should know that they are potentially breaching laws when they engage in cyber bullying. Misuse of telecommunications, stalking and harassment and criminal defamation can carry severe financial penalties. Employees need to be encouraged to report incidents of cyber bullying to management and HR. The company should also provide bullying and harassment training for people using social media and the Internet.
Rachel Clements, the co-founder and director of Psychological Services and principal organisational psychologist at the Centre for Corporate Health says it’s important to provide ongoing coaching for managers to ensure they are equipped to handle sensitive issues such as bullying.
“Coaching around understanding technology associated with bullying, managing conflict, effective performance management, managing mental health issues at work and holding honest and authentic conversations, adds momentum to stamping out bullying behaviours at work,’’ Clements says.
She says that in the event of a bullying or a conflict situation, providing skills based coaching on how the individual should manage the conflict prevents these issues from lingering. Providing and promoting an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) allows an individual the opportunity to talk through any issues they maybe having with an independent trained professional, should they feel unable to speak up to a manager or a member of the HR team.
Have you had issues with cyber bullies? How did you handle it?
This is my final blog for The CEO Institute. It’s been a privilege working with the Institute and communicating with all of you. Wishing you every bit of success for the future. Leon Gettler, Award winning journalist and author. http://www.leongettler.com