The continuing and ever-growing sophistication of cutting-edge technology has made communication easier. Workplaces once accustomed to paper memos can now collaborate via instant messages and online meetings, and one-on-one cyber interactions.
However, those benefits have come with a cost. Many employees use communication tools as a means to harass and bully fellow co-workers. The sheer number of staff members engaging in online harassment has made it an all-too-common activity.
Alarming data confirming bad behavior
A recent study reveals that eight out of 10 adults were victims of cyberbullying in the workplace over the past six months. Up to 20 percent have suffered this sinister form of harassment over the past week. For many workers, the continuing bad behavior has been linked to emotional problems and reduced job satisfaction, work performance, and overall physical and mental health.
Understanding the specific tactics cyberbullies use can help identify and put a stop to online harassment at work. Cyberbullying, whether in or outside the office, can take many forms and include:
- Unwanted and overt sexual harassment and advances
- Posting negative/harmful content about a co-worker
- Social media posts disparaging the fellow employee
- Making outright offensive and threatening email communications
- Sharing personal information, also known as doxing
- Using a victim’s image and photos to impersonate or create a false identity or fake profile
- False accusations of unethical or illegal behavior and other types of lies and gossip
- Encouraging self-harm and, in some cases, suicide
Options for victims
For victims, the best strategy is not to respond immediately out of hurt and anger. Processing the incident is essential prior to taking any action. Speaking directly to the individual is helpful, particularly if they fail to realize the harm they’ve done.
Persistent bullying requires a report to a manager or union representative. Having tangible evidence of the attacks is important. From there, block the individual from a phone and social networking sites. If law enforcement involvement is the only other option, take that step sooner rather than later.
No one deserves continuing harassment and threats while at work. Instead of suffering in silence, take the action necessary to secure justice and resume peace of mind.