Workplace bullying and the internet: Has the internet changed the dynamics of bullying?

by Oct 25, 2015

Let’s face it, in today’s world nearly everybody has a device that connects them to the online world, be it a smartphone, laptop, desktop computer or tablet.  Almost everybody has a way of staying connected to everybody else.  Social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook or Instagram have changed the way people connect with their families and friends, or even to those outside their circle. In the workplace, intranet sites, email and tools such as Skype or instant messenger are also widely used to communicate with employees or teams. However, these online tools are also sometimes used by workplace bullies.

Cyberbullying at work comes in many forms.  It can be through a negative anonymous comment on the company’s shared intranet social network site or an online gossip spread through Skype or a messaging tool.  The effects are as damaging as the usual forms of workplace bullying.  What’s worrying is that it is also becoming prevalent in organizations.

A study conducted by the University of Nottingham and the University of Sheffield in the U.K. showed that eight out of ten adults they surveyed said they became victims of cyber bullying.  A quarter of the 320 respondents also reported they experienced being the subject of an online gossip at least once a week, or felt humiliated and ignored at work.  And while some employees who were bullied at work may have found a way to physically avoid a workplace bully, dismissing or avoiding negative comments online is far more difficult to do.

Sometimes, even those that are not bullies may have unconsciously become one, especially if they shared an opinion online which resulted to another person feeling belittled or humiliated.

To learn more about how the internet has affected workplace bullying, click here.

About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

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