A fifth of workers have been bullied by email, a new report has found.
The survey showed that a further 6.2 per cent have been bullied by text message. Nine per cent admit that cyber-bullying is a problem.
Thirteen per cent of victims blame the increased use of communications tools, including blackberrys, which make bullying a 24-seven problem.
All this costs bosses in the UK a whopping £2 billion a year in sick pay, staff turnover and loss of production.
The worrying findings come as the Dignity at Work Partnership, an anti-bullying at work initiative, launches a booklet setting out the business cases for tackling bullying in the workplace.
The survey also reveals that many employees do not know what to do if they experience bullying at work. While almost half would go to senior management and a quarter to their HR department and/or their union, six per cent would take revenge on the bully. Almost ten per cent said they would do nothing and four per cent would simply leave their job.
Those who provided additional comments showed responses ranging from strong aggression (‘confront them’; ‘a single accurate punch’) to passivity (‘nothing I could do’).
“Bullying in the workplace can destroy peoples’ lives,” said Mandy Telford, Dignity at Work coordinator for trade union Unite (formerly Amicus). “It also has a direct impact on an organisation’s bottom line, and we hope that making the financial impact clear will help management and HR staff build a business case for tackling the issue.
“Our project aims to tackle workplace bullying in partnership with employers. We hope that showing the financial impact of bullying will encourage them to develop their own anti-bullying policies, benefiting both their staff and their bottom line.”
According to the survey authors, cyber-bullying varies across sectors with problems being more prevalent in sales, media and marketing and telecoms. In retail, bullying was reported as being primarily face-to-face.