HR Needs to Provide Training on Cyberbullying

21 Apr

Cyberbullying is all too common in the workplace.

Bullying doesn't just happen on the playground. According to Bullying Statistics, it can take numerous forms, and is just as prevalent in the workplace as it is in school yards. From singling one person out of a team to sending intimidating messages online, many employees experience types of bullying behaviors on a regular basis. A late 2012 study from psychologists at the University of Sheffield and the University of Nottingham uncovered 8 in 10 of the 320 people surveyed had been the subject of at least one type of cyberbullying behavior.

When it comes to bullying, human resource departments need to step in and utilize their employee management strategies. However, an article in Business and Legal Resources suggested employers adopt even stricter antibullying policies than they may even have in place.

Stop Bullying in the Workplace
According to BLR, HR professionals need to go beyond the traditional types of employee management strategies, such as identifying the bully and providing an appropriate punishment, and consider how cyberbullying creates a hostile work environment that requires specific strategies. 

Rob Wilson, president of Employco USA, told BLR employers may want to establish zero-tolerance policies regarding online harassment of co-workers, as well as adopt comprehensive social media guidelines that address negative behavior on online networking sites.

"It is important that employers address this issue in their policies so that employees feel they are a part of a safe work environment," Wilson said. "A positive and productive workplace should be of top priority, and employers can enforce this by instituting cyberbullying policies and penalizing infractions."

In fact, cyberbullying may even have a greater impact in workers' well-being than in-person types of bullying. The 2012 study out of the U.K. found those employees who had experienced cyberbullying ended up having lower job satisfaction and higher mental strain than their counterparts who weren't bullied, and these side effects were greater than those who experienced conventional bullying.

The effects of online harassment between co-workers can be far-reaching. While cyberbullying can create a negative workplace in the short term, it can also cause workers to take leave of absences, have health problems and even leave the company entirely, according to USA Today. HR professionals need to ensure workers are being protected online and offline through creating and enforcing antibullying employee management policies in the workplace. Otherwise, the entire company can suffer due to the actions of a few individuals.

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