How to address cyber bullying in the work place
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By: Devan Moonsamy
Cyber bullying seems to be on the rise as more people work from home. Covid-19 has opened a new portal for employee deliverables by companies giving employees the opportunity to complete their tasks from home. This means what would usually be a meeting in a boardroom now occurs on a Skype or Zoom platform. But amidst the new adjustments we might not see how some employees might be exposed to cyber bullying.
This appears in various forms. Some of the examples would be an employee frequently being interrupted when speaking, emails and comments during the session that are not kind and perhaps even criticism from managers on a platform that hosts a large group of people.
These might result in the employee hiding their screen, perhaps we would see a drop in the participation in virtual meetings and we might also find that they may not be uphold their usual work standards. Infact,, when it comes to working from home often the line is blurred between work and home. As much it is an exciting opportunity to work in the comfort of your home, you may find that those who have to be at the office turn up their noses when it comes to those who work from home. This is almost seen as a privilege by those who have to be at the office.
However, what we don’t see is that the pressure to deliver and meet work expectations are much more for those working from home than those at the office. There is always this point to ponder that perhaps those working from home are doing so in the comfort of their own beds but let’s be honest that might not always be the case. This means the employees who work from home already feel they are treated differently to those who have to be at the office, which may result in greater pressure and anxiety to meet deadlines for those working from home.
Cyber bullying, like office bullying usually grows due to someone feeling they are being treated differently. With work meetings being held virtually it’s normal for some employees to feel left out or bullied. In a meeting at the office often people are more vocal on their ideas but with the virtual platform we often see individuals hiding behind their screens.
How do we address the issue of cyber bullying?
The most important point would be to address all participants in the meeting. Engage and encourage participation.We shouldn’t let any individual feel like they don’t need to participate.
Always record your online sessio. This is to ensure that in the event there is a case you can go back and address it.
Start the meeting or virtual session with checking up on each individual if the time permits. If it does not give the meeting a few more minutes just to check up on those working from home. This not just not only makes them feel involved but also valued.
If there is a case of cyber bullying such as a nasty comment or issue, don’t hesitate to address it with HR. The virtual platform is still a work platform and these issues must be addressed seriously. At the same time we must encourage HR to enhance their skills on how to handle these situations.
The reality is whether bullying takes place at the office or on a virtual platform, the risk to the business still exists. That is why these issues must be addressed as a matter of urgency so that these problems can be handled in professionally and promptly.
HR managers should work on updating policies to reflect the new working arrangements. This will also add to the accountability of deliverables as employees venture in this new sphere of work. Anti-bullying and harassment policies must be made available to all to ensure zero tolerance of bullying in the workplace.
We must also handle complaints of cyber bullying with extreme sensitivity. Investigations must be done and due protocol followed. These are new and undoubtedly unchallenging times for all businesses. Ensuring the necessary communication is filtered through and individuals are up to date on the business will result in a smooth running of operations.
Devan Moonsamy is the CEO at The ICHAF Training Institute
*The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL or of title sites.
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