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Cyberbullying a problem in workplaces: Report

| www.cos-mag.com

Bullying in a variety of forms, including supervisors bullying employees and cyberbullying, are a growing concern in Canadian workplaces, according to a report by the Conference Board of Canada.

“Bullying is not just a problem in schools. We're seeing more instances of bullying in the workplace and employers need to recognize that workplace bullying is happening and that there are costs if the issue is ignored or poorly handled,” said Ruth Wright, director, leadership and human resources at the Conference Board of Canada. “Bullying in the workplace has an impact on the organization as a whole.  It reflects a negative culture as well as performance and reputation.” 

The most common type of bullying is top-down bullying, where a superior bullies an employee. However, lateral bullying (peer to peer), and bottom-up bullying (employee bullies superior) can also occur in the workplace, found the report,

Workplace Bullying Primer: What Is It and How to Deal With It

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One of the major means of bullying in the workplace is cyberbullying using email. Email allows people from all levels of an organization to place demands on each other, to jump the lines of authority, and to shift the work queue. It may also allow those doing the bullying to feel anonymous, said the Conference Board.

The report suggests that employers, who could be held legally responsible, need to take greater responsibility to address this detrimental behaviour.

Cost associated with the bullying can include:

•legal expenses

•absenteeism

•reduced productivity and work quality

•reduced employee job satisfaction and engagement

• stress

•sickness and psychological problems.

In the worst case, workplace bullying can lead to increased employee turnover, disability leave, and employees suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

While there is no best way to handle all the different issues that may arise, there are proactive strategies organizations can adopt to deal with workplace bullying, including education, policies and procedures, investigation, coaching and, in more serious instances, applying legislation as required, according to the report.

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