Anti-Bullying Week 2019 takes place between Monday 11th November and Friday 15th November, so it’s an apt time to look at how to tackle bullying in the workplace, especially in regards to cyber-bullying, which can be harder to spot.
While aggressive behaviour, verbal or sexual harassment, are all very noticeable forms of bullying, cyber-bullying tends to be more hidden and those affected by it often don’t speak up. Unfortunately when it comes to cyber-bullying law, there is no legal definition of cyber-bullying in the UK. Nevertheless, everyone has the right to work in an environment free from harassment, so it’s up to employers to create their own anti-bullying policies.
Stopping bullies at work
The rise of social media and other technologies for communication purposes now means that employees can be cyber-bullied at home, as well as in the office. And while the Equality Act places an obligation for companies to prevent harassment in the workplace, it’s something that companies need to be increasingly proactive on, as any type of bullying can have a serious impact on the business.
For workers, it can mean increased stress, increased sick leave, depression, substance abuse and even suicide. For the organisation, as well as increased absenteeism and lower productivity, it can mean high staff turnover, legal action and bad publicity.
While it can be difficult to initially identify when cyber-bullying is happening, once it does occur, it’s usually quite easy to gather evidence through digital traces, whether on a company email server, social media, or on a Smartphone.
Dealing with a cyberbully in your workplace
Dealing with it can be trickier. To start, as with any type of bullying or harassment, organisations should create official anti-bullying policies and measures. That includes raising awareness of bullying in the workplace and making sure it’s reported when it does happen.
To do this, there needs to be a clear policy on what constitutes bullying. Managers should be fully trained on how to deal with bullying, with an emphasis on cyber-bullying, and know how to cope with conflict management and resolution. At the same time, employees should be made clear on the distinction between assertive management and bullying.
After that, it’s important to make sure that all reports of cyber-bullying in the workplace are taken seriously and investigated. When enough evidence has been gathered, the person responsible should be reminded of official company policies on bullying and asked to stop, or face further disciplinary action. In event of threats of physical violence, the police should be informed.
Are you being bullied at work?
In the meantime, if you think you’re being bullied at work, it’s important to act. Ask HR about the organisational policy on bullying before talking to a manager, or making an officiant complaint. Always remember to make a record of incidents to back up your claims.
If HR or management are unwilling to act, then it’s an idea to see a trade union representative if you have one, or get in touch with a solicitor. However, as with any work-related issue, your health comes first and, if that’s affected, it may be time to seek a new role elsewhere. In which case, Zoek is always here with all the newest and best job opportunities throughout the UK.
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