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Farrer & Co | Cyberbullying in the workplace

There is of course a certain irony in writing about this in an online blog post, but ACAS has recently issued its updated guidance on tackling cyberbullying in the workplace (see here).

The guide rightly highlights the potentially serious employee relations issues which may (and often do) arise from cyberbullying that is not addressed appropriately, such as poor morale and performance, and increased rates of absence/staff turnover. It also underlines the need for organisations to ensure they have some kind of policy in place and that the policy is reviewed regularly in light of technological developments and the ever-increasing role of online or social media activities in many employees' jobs.

Some thoughts from me:

-Time and time again in cyberbullying cases, employees show a failure to have grasped the fact that they should not post anything online that they would not be prepared to say in person (although admittedly the bar may be pretty low in both respects for some employees).

-A common defence of 'it's just banter' often points to wider cultural issues within the organisation that need to be addressed from a general bullying/harassment perspective as well as in relation to cyberbullying specifically.

-The portable nature of online resources means that lines are becoming increasingly blurred in relation to cyberbullying at work and cyberbullying off-site and/or outside working hours.

-All of these issues point to the conclusion that training of staff is key – a policy is only as good as the compliance of those expected to follow it or implement it. Given that we are now firmly in a world where online resources are fundamental to the operations of most organisations, ignorance by employers is no longer a defence.

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