W orkplace bullying is frighteningly common, and can take a big toll on businesses. Research from the US and UK consistently shows that an astronomic number of employees surveyed had been affected by workplace bullying, whether as a target or a witness.
Cyberbullying is now a fact of life, and against the law.
Australia is signatory to international human rights laws that are relevant to bullying.
Because employers are required by law to provide a working environment that’s safe, it is an issue for print bosses.
There have been cases before Fair Work Australia where businesses have been fined for failing to implement policies and train people in managing bullying. And as social media continues to blur the lines between work and private life, what constitutes work activities as opposed to out-of-hours conduct becomes more difficult to manage.
Workplace discrimination cyber bullying is ever increasing, and is a major challenge for organisations today. To combat this, printers can put several strategies in place.
First, employers should ensure there company has a social media policy in place that makes reference to cyber bullying and responsible use of the internet and social media.
The policy has to draw the distinction between work and home. Companies are now expected to develop suitable and integrated bullying and harassment and social media policies that cover cyber-bullying.
Ideally, these need to be developed with employees to get everyone buying in. The policy should cover the following:
•a definition of bullying and cyber bullying, including examples of conduct that may constitute cyber-bullying
•examples of websites considered to be social media sites
•examples of what is considered appropriate and acceptable behaviour
•examples of what is considered prohibited conduct. This would include harassment, discrimination, professional misconduct or conduct which is otherwise damaging to the business’ reputation.
•The company needs a reporting and investigation process for bullying and cyber-bullying
•The company has to set out the consequences for engaging in bullying or cyber-bullying behaviour.
These rules should be the bare minimum. Secondly, employees should know that they are potentially breaching laws when they engage in cyber bullying. Misuse of telecommunications, stalking and harassment and criminal defamation can carry severe financial penalties.
Employees need to be encouraged to report incidents of cyber bullying to management and HR.
The company should also provide bullying and harassment training for people using social media and the internet.
It is also important to provide ongoing coaching for managers to ensure they are equipped to handle sensitive issues such as bullying.
In the event of a bullying or a conflict situation, providing skills based coaching on how the individual should manage the conflict prevents these issues from lingering. Providing and promoting an EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) allows an individual the opportunity to talk through any issues they might be having with an independent trained professional, should they feel unable to speak up to a manager or a member of the HR team – in the unlikely event they have one.
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