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Cyber bullying in the workplace is on the rise

Cyber bullying at work is becoming as prevalent as non-electronic forms of bullying, according to a recent academic study.

The report, entitled 'Punched from the Screen', found that eight out of ten employees had suffered some form of cyber bullying in the last six months. This could have been receiving an offensive email or text, or being humiliated, ignored or gossiped about online.

Between one in seven and one in five people had experienced this kind of bullying on a weekly basis, which is comparable to figures reported for non-electronic bullying, according to the researchers.

This comes on the back of a survey last year which suggested bullying was on the rise in the public sector, with three in five people either being bullied themselves or having witnessed bullying in the workplace. It was suggested that the increase was being fuelled by the difficult economic conditions.

The latest study claimed the effect of cyber bullying was worse than non-electronic forms, with some respondents showing greater mental strain and lower job satisfaction. However, the effects of witnessing cyber bullying were not as great as for 'conventional' bullying, possibly because the impersonal and remote nature of cyberspace made it harder to empathise with the victim.

Organisations need to keep pace with technological advances and update bullying policies accordingly. After consultation with employee representatives, they might consider widening policies to cover cyber bullying outside the workplace.

Detailed advice and guidance from Acas is available on Cyber bullying. Acas also provides training in dealing with All Acas events on Bullying and harassment for all regions in the workplace and can help develop effective solutions with any organisation.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.

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