Workplace bullying costs the Australian economy $36 billion yearly, with cyberbullying being the most common form.
Cyberbullies often tend to remain anonymous while they bully coworkers. This element of anonymity makes cyberbullying difficult for many employers to tackle. This post explores ways in which victims and employers can prevent cyberbullying at work.
What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is bullying behavior in the form of intimidation, humiliation, harassment, and threats that take place through the use of computers, cellphones, or other electronic devices. It often involves someone sending, posting, or sharing negative, offensive, false, harmful, or humiliating material about someone, or acting in a way to intentionally intimidate someone else.
Cyberbullying is usually upsetting to the victim and it usually lowers their productivity as they lose focus. Severe cyberbullying in the workplace can also lead to mental health issues and absenteeism.
What Should Victims Do?
Victims of cyberbullying should never ignore the warning signs, hoping it will subside. It almost never goes away until concrete actions are taken. Here are some of what they can do:
- Respond calmly and rationally
It’s important that victims keep their cool and not respond in anger. Getting into an online conflict should be avoided. That’s why any response should be calm and measured. In some scenarios, it’s best not to even reply.
- Checking Privacy Setting in Social Media
By checking their social media privacy settings, victims can know who sees their posts and maybe even be able to identify potential bullies.
- Tell the Cyberbully to Stop
Open communication with the bully can also help victims clarify that they do not appreciate such acts. That way, cyberbullies have no excuse for whatever actions will be taken from thereon.
- Keep a list of the Harassment
Compiling a list of such harassment, if it continues, will help gather evidence that can be used to support cyberbullying claims.
- Report It
If cyberbullying persists, it should be reported to employers. If the bullying involves death threats, then victims might have to involve the police.
What Should Employers Do?
It is the responsibility of every employer to preserve workplace safety, and cyberbullying is a great threat to that. Here are some of what employers can do to prevent cyberbullying:
- Rigorous background checks
The first step employers can take is to hire individuals that will respect coworkers. That’s why criminal history checks are a must. Organisations are increasingly turning to local online service providers like Australian national character check Australia where background checks can be obtained online. Individuals that are prone to violence or have been charged with harassment before can easily be identified and filtered out during the hiring process.
- Having Anti-bullying Policies in Place
Employers should make it clear what behaviors are acceptable when using social media. Ideally, the policy should define acceptable conduct for both work-related social media accounts and personal accounts. Furthermore, employers must ensure that every employee is fully aware of such anti-bullying policies.
- Dealing With Complaints
Although many employers have anti-bullying policies in place, only a few deal with allegations seriously. In a recent survey, four out of five employees felt that their employer was ineffective in handling cyberbullying.
Employers should thoroughly investigate cyberbullying claims so that the perpetrator can be identified and the matter resolved promptly.