Sharp increase in cyber-bullying at work


It was reported recently that cyber-bullying at work is on the rise, particularly in the public sector. One in five government employees have revealed experiencing or observing workplace cyber bullying, either through phone calls, email and text messaging.

Unlike traditional workplace bullying, consisting of regular face-to-face harassment of a victim by bully, cyber bullying is done through communication systems and technology, allowing the bully to broadcast defamatory comments both quickly and even publicly, yet form a distance.

Over 50% of cyber bulling is attributed to work-related issues, such as over-zealous micromanagement, inconsistent workloads and persistent criticism of a persona and their performance. In addition to slander and false and malicious accusations, the bullying also set out to isolate individuals in the workplace.

In addition to an increase in work-related cyber-bullying, the public sector has also seen an overall increase in internet misuse by employees. There was a rise in the number of public sector workers suspended in 2015 after being accused of breaking social media rules, with 51 workers receiving suspensions and an additional 114 employees issued with warnings about breaching rules around social media use at work.

Other breaches of expected online behaviour included workers making threatening comments towards a colleague, racial comments, positing inappropriate photos and even viewing online porn.

Tips of preventing internet misuse:

  • Employers need to establish a robust internet use policy that covers all aspects of internet use, both personal and professional.
  • Ensure your policies are regularly kept updated and reflect changes in social media use and trends
  • Consider training employers on social media best practice.

And if something bad does happen, make sure the subsequent investigation is detailed and considers the facts of the case before you come to a decision on next steps. Better still, when facing the complexities of internet misuse, always seek support from a professional expert like Avensure before you act.