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How HR Can Intervene in Employee Cyberbullying

Posted on June 15th, 2016 Read time: 2 minutes

Workplace cyberbullying results in increased absences, lost productivity, increased medical costs, and higher turnover. It poisons an organization by undermining employee morale and eroding any sense of loyalty, trust, or teamwork. If the Healthy Workplace Bill is passed, employees will be able to sue workplace bullies, hold employers accountable, and compel employers to correct and prevent future instances of bullying. Learn what your HR professionals can do right now to help stop employee cyberbullying. 

  • Changes to Organization

Collaborate on a mission-values statement clarifying your corporate culture. You’ll get a sense of who is or isn’t on board with how you want your workers interacting. Examine your organization’s management style. Bullying often starts at the top with autocratic management, strict hierarchies, lack of accountability, or passive-aggressive behavior. Be on the lookout for persistent retention issues as well. If many people are leaving one department or team, there’s a problem that needs addressing quickly.   

  • Strategies to Strengthen Leaders

Be proactive. Educate and train staff and upper management on cyberbullying. Ensure your company has clear policies protecting workers from bullying. If an employee reports inappropriate behavior, listen carefully, take it seriously, and investigate it quickly and thoroughly. Encourage workers to save emails, text messages, faxes, voicemails, and other documentation of threatening behavior. When writing notes about encounters, remind workers to include the date of the incident, names of witnesses, exactly what was said or done, and the target’s immediate response to the bully. HR can use this documentation as part of the disciplinary process.

  • Support Services

Because HR is often the first point of contact for a bullying complaint, staff and targets must strategize how to handle the bully’s behavior and guide targets to available resources. Ensure HR investigates and resolves the issue. Offer the targeted worker help with coping and stress management strategies and access to counseling.     

  • Accountability Measures

Employees need clear policies on what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Ensure that HR and the worker’s supervisor speak with the bully soon after adverse behavior occurs. An experienced coach can help bullying individuals overcome their personal limitations if they accept that they need to change and work on doing so. If the employee refuses to behave appropriately, your organization must hold the worker accountable for the misconduct and discipline according to company policies, including potential termination.

Don’t let cyberbullying become an issue in your organization. For more help keeping your company operating smoothly, contact Innovative Employee Solutions today!

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