Published: Wed, June 14, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Workplace Harassment and the Internet

Workplace Harassment and the Internet

'Employers Beware' should become the catchphrase of the 21st century as the Internet has become a watchdog on its own. Where employees previously faced the gallows when uttering distasteful or derogatory things about their employer on the Internet, the tables could turn very quickly.

Remember What Happened to Uber?

Uber was recently in the news after putting together a task team to investigate a number of employee complaints. Of all the complaints tendered, a few received a closer look and at least 20 people lost their jobs. While the whole world sits up and applauds Uber for its efforts to clear up the scourge in their ranks, a bit of backpedaling will offer some insight into the situation. The Uber debacle really only started getting the attention it deserved when a disgruntled ex-employee, Susan Fowler posted a blog detailing some hairy details about the organization. Although the detailed blog will have many employees cringe at the thought of retaliation from the company, Fowler soldiered on. The result? A 'what-you-gonna-do-about-it?' from the public. These investigations now seem like an afterthought and not something the company willingly entered.

Google Approaches This Differently

Google bypasses HR slightly by allowing staff to air their grievances in a newsletter. There is no interference from the board, as staff members run the newsletter. This allows employees to air matters on a public platform without fearing victimization. It also allows department heads to have an understanding of the route cause of grievances in certain departments. It also allows staff to air matters that may not be considered serious by others but can be hurtful or offensive to them.

Statistics That Need to Change

Workplace bullying is often made fun of in the media. In movies such as Horrible Bosses (2011) and The Devil Wears Prada (2006), entertainment value and a box office hit are two motivations for Hollywood behind this movie. For many, however, this is a sad reality. A workplace bullying survey conducted by the CDC reveals that up to 25% of respondents have experienced this unpleasant scenario. Companies are tasked with the responsibility to monitor their employee relations more closely to stop it in its tracks even before it starts.

There is more to gain from preventing workplace bullying than merely a pat on the back. Employers also have the chance to improve the morale of their team, by providing their staff with a platform. It is important for staff to know that issues will be dealt swiftly and confidentially. Furthermore, there are a number of positive spinoffs employers will enjoy when workplace bullying is dealt with. These include:

·        It Saves Time and Money: Staff who no longer have to deal with a workplace bully are less likely to leave for this reason. This means the organization will not have to train up new staff members and incur the cost of a vacant position.

·        Better Morale Leads to Better Health: One of the biggest contributors to poor health is stress. When stress in the workplace decreases, employers will see the positive effect it has on sick leave and absenteeism.

·        Camaraderie: A workforce that is comfortable to work together, will have higher productivity.

Although this is a tough call for employers, intervention in workplace bullying is integral to the survival of the organization as a whole. This is even true when the culprit is a high-performing staff member. This allows the organization to set the tone for their workplace and improve corporate culture. Sir Richard Branson once said “A company is people… employees want to know… am I being listened to or am I a cog in the wheel? People really need to feel wanted.”


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