Cyberbullying is becoming more and more prevalent. Children, celebrities and campaigners are among those who have experienced abuse, whilst evidence suggests that it is also becoming a problem in workplaces. In the past decade communication technologies have increasingly infiltrated the workplace. For instance, UK office workers send and receive 10,000 emails per year according to researchers at Warwick Business School. Many of these will be generic work requests, a few might be impolite and some could be downright abusive.
There are reasons to believe that cyberbullying behaviours perpetrated in the organisational context are more subtle than those observed among children and adolescents. This is because employees are bound by regulations that prohibit explicit abuse aimed at co-workers and adults may have developed the capacity to disguise bullying behaviours. Despite this, workplace cyberbullying can still cause harm as researchers have linked it to low job satisfaction, mental strain and intention to quit the organisation.
Examples of workplace cyberbullying can include online threats, overly critical emails and the distribution of embarrassing pictures and personal information. Aspects of computer mediated communication mean that workplace cyberbullying differs from offline workplace bullying in several key ways. For instance, it is possible for perpetrators to remain anonymous, the perpetrator and victim are often in different locations when messages are distributed and cyber acts can be seen by a much larger audience. Furthermore, certain acts of cyberbullying are more permanent than the transience of offline bullying acts and they can be experience by employees outside of the work environment.
Before in-depth research can address workplace cyberbullying it is critical to develop valid and reliable tools to measure it. This is the focus of a study being run by researchers at the University of Sheffield. If you are employed and would like to take part in the study please click on the link below.
Researchers from the University of Sheffield are working with the support of No Bullying to identify how negative behaviours conducted through technology can impact employee health, job satisfaction and working relationships. People are increasingly using technology to communicate with their colleagues. It is therefore important to investigate how negative technology-mediated behaviours affect employees.
If you are employed and would like to contribute to knowledge on cyberbullying within the context of work, we would like to invite you to take a short survey on negative technological experiences, job satisfaction, health and work engagement.
To obtain data that will give a casual indication of how negative technological behaviours affect people, we need to collect data now and again in six months’ time. Therefore we would like to invite you to complete this survey now as well as a second survey that will be distributed in six months.
This study has been ethically approved by the Sheffield University Management School. All responses are anonymous and strictly confidential. You are also free to withdraw from the study at any time by closing the web page.
Learn more about the Study and do take some time to participate in it.
Sam Farley is a doctoral researcher at Sheffield University Management School – email [email protected] twitter: @sam_farley3