Cyber bullying is increasing in the workplace. While less common than the traditional forms of bullying, it is becoming more frequent and is likely to increase over the years as the world becomes more digitised.
Cyber bullying can take many forms ranging from hostile emails, false and defamatory accusations on social media or blogs, to texting and calling.In many cases the victims know the perpetrators so dealing with them online and offline means there is no escape from the abuse or a safe place to switch off.
Studies have shown some employees are more likely to be targeted than others. Studies have revealed that people who are employed in an external -facing role dealing with clients and customers have more exposure to cyber bullying.One study regarding the welfare of nurses for example, demonstrated cyber bullying from their peers, colleagues and managers. However, there were also attacks from patients, relatives and students. See here for an example.
Therefore, it is imperative that management take the necessary steps to minimise cyber bullying and the system requires measures to stop, prevent and manage the problem.
This form of bullying is relatively new so in many workplaces it is not integrated into policy and procedures.
Firstly, there should be an open discussion about what it looks like in your workplace as it varies across different professions and industry groups. Then create different mechanisms in your policies and procedures so employees can report their experience of bullying and have their concerns taken seriously.
Finally, remember that cyber bullying leaves a trail. You will have evidence in the form of screen shots, emails and other forms. Evidence is a key factor in all effective workplace investigations.
Here is a link to learn more.
Thanks to medicalexpress.com and shrm.org for the references.