Acas uses cookies to ensure we give you the best experience and to make the site simpler. Find out more about cookies.

Website URL : http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx/images/acas/helplineonline/media/pdf/4/n/media/pdf/h/o/index.aspx?articleid=5992

How to combat cyber bullying in the workplace

  1. Did you know?

  2. What is cyber bullying?
  3. Three ways to tackle cyber bullying

  4. Further help


With leading figures such as Prince William calling for greater awareness of online bullying , and major social platforms introducing new measures and controls, employers are increasingly being urged to take social media abuse seriously and confront cyber bullies in the workplace.

The rise of social media has changed the way we communicate. In the UK alone, over 30 million people use Facebook and over 15 million access Twitter. The impact of these new channels on the workplace has been profound. While many companies have harnessed the power of social media to connect to their audience, the prevalence of this often hidden world has allowed cyber bullying to flourish. In the past decade some reports show a tenfold increase in 'internet trolling' and convictions for online abuse have soared to five a day. 

In an era where digital communication is no longer an option and technology is a way of life, the rise in smart phone ownership, messaging apps and 24/7chat rooms have created new ways to connect and communicate. However, the rise in digital technology has also brought previously private social networks into the workplace and opened the door for new forms of workplace bullying and exclusion. 

To help employers tackle the rise of cyber bullying, inside and outside of work, we offer support and guidance on spotting the signs, developing effective social media usage policies, improving reporting and monitoring electronic activity.


Did you know?


What is cyber bullying?

Cyber bullying is bullying, harassment or victimisation that takes place on blogs, email or social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. This could be directed at an employee or a manager and may include inappropriate photographs, offensive messages, or direct threats. This kind of bullying can take place in the office or outside of work hours, and the victim may be unaware that this abuse is taking place.

Cyber bullying like other forms of workplace harassment and victimisation can have a negative impact on businesses - leading to poor morale and performance, continuing staff absence and an overall loss in productivity.

Get further information and guidance on cyber bullying at work.


Three ways to tackle cyber bullying

The good news is that leading social networking sites are already taking steps to curb online trolls and harassment. Facebook recently introduced a 'reporting tool' that allowed users to report unsuitable comments and content, and Twitter has developed filters to weed out abusive tweets, and implemented new measures to ban persistent trolls. However, while these are a step in the right direction, we also recommend employers consider these three specific areas:

  1. Keeping your social media policy up to date
    Technology changes fast and companies often find it difficult to keep track of new developments. We offer guidance that allows employers to develop relevant social media policies and outline what is acceptable and unacceptable in the workplace.

    Find out how to update your workplace policies.
     
  2. Making it easier to report online abuse
    Introducing a simpler reporting process can encourage people to report offensive messages and inappropriate content sooner. It's also a good idea to act upon reports quickly, and have a consistent approach to disciplinary and grievance procedures that treats each employee fairly.

    Find out more about social media grievances and discipline.
     
  3. Taking a closer look at workplace communication 
    While there may be good reasons for tracking employees and messages at work, employers need to stay on the right side of the Data Protection Act. We offer guidance to help you to find the right balance between tackling cyber bullying and protecting your employees' privacy.

    Learn more about monitoring electronic activity.

Further help 


This news content or feature has been generated by a third party. Commentary, opinion and content do not necessarily represent the opinion of Acas.
We recommend that you explore further information and advice available on this website, particularly within our Advice A-Z guidance pages. If you have questions about workplace rights and rules visit Helpline Online.
This news content or feature may be reproduced free of charge in any format or medium for research, private study or for internal circulation within an organisation, subject to accurate reproduction.