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Protecting employees from Virtual harassment


Verkada, a security business was in the news for all the wrong reasons in 2020. Some of it's employees were accused of harassing their co-workers using the company's own technology: Several male workers used the company's face recognition cameras to take photographs of female colleagues, then made sexually explicit comments about them on the # RawVerkadawgz secret Slack channel. Instead of dismissing the offenders, the business decreased their stock holdings, a decision that enraged both former and current employees. At least one employee resigned due to the “toxic culture” at the company. Filip Kaliszan, the company's co-founder and CEO, eventually fired the three workers that started the incident.


Verkada is only one example of workplace cyberbullying. There have been several examples of online harassment in a variety of sectors, and not all incidents are recorded. Other workers, however, aren't the only ones that prey on vulnerable populations in the workplace. Workers can be mistreated in their personal life by anonymous persons, with devastating consequences for their morale and productivity at work.


Virtual Harassment is becoming increasingly serious.


Online harassment, defined as the use of the virtual space to harass, intimidate, deliberately humiliate, or threaten another person, is a major issue in the United States. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly four out of every ten adults in the United States has been harassed online.

While online harassment by strangers is typically less harmful than bullying or harassment by co-workers, it can nevertheless have a significant negative impact on employees' attitudes about their employment and employers. Online harassment may have a number of negative organizational consequences, including increased distraction, internal conflict, and a loss of group trust, to name a few.

Despite the fact that offenders are frequently anonymous and far away from their victims, internet harassment may be particularly harmful to individuals owing to its magnitude and often public nature. Minor disagreements between public-facing staff can drag on for months, garnering larger audiences and creating endless diversions. Harassment that begins online can lead to actual threats in the real world, such as sexual harassment and stalking.


Harassment is a workplace issue


Studies show that up to 21% of individuals in the workplace are subjected to online harassment and unfortunately many companies are unaware of the scope of the problem.

Online workplace harassment has unfortunately become a normal aspect of many employees' everyday life, thanks in part to the rise of remote employment following the COVID-19 epidemic. Remote employment may aggravate online harassment by mixing professional and personal life and combining workplaces with homes. Anecdotal data from the financial services industry shows that WFH workers are using more harsh and aggressive language connected to online harassment and bullying.

The most vulnerable members of a company's staff are disproportionately affected by online abuse. Employees who are younger, female, identify as LGBTQ, or come from a racial or ethnic minority background are more likely to face online abuse.

There has recently been an increase in complaints from female employees, for example. More than 4 in 10 participants were subjected to online harassment by their co-workers, according to research by the UK charity Rights of Women, which questioned hundreds of women in late 2020. 7 in 10 participants said their employers aren't doing enough to safeguard them.

Whether employees are targeted online by strangers or co-workers, the consequences of this usually unreported crime can, and frequently do, spill over into their professional life.


leadership needs to prioritize anti-harassment efforts


Whether employees are targeted online by strangers or co-workers, the consequences of this usually unreported crime can, and frequently do, spill over into their professional life.


In 2017, researchers from the charity Pen America looked into the experiences of authors and journalists who had been subjected to online abuse. More than six out of ten survey participants said it had an influence on their personal lives as well as their physical, psychological, and emotional wellbeing. Furthermore, more than three out of ten respondents indicated that online harassment had a negative impact on their work lives.

While emotional stress induced by online harassment has been linked to lower motivation and work satisfaction (particularly among female employees), there are also legal ramifications for companies. Even if the assault was carried out off the job and on personal equipment, courts are increasingly expecting employers to act when they learn of work-related harassment overflowing into the internet domain.


Companies may take proactive steps to avoid internet abuse.


Companies can take proactive steps to avoid internet abuse.

Employers must emphasize online harassment prevention as an operational objective as remote and hybrid working circumstances become more common.

Every company should have a clear anti-harassment policy in place that addresses both real and online harassment. What constitutes online harassment, what workers are required to do if they or someone they work with is harassed (including who to report the matter to internally), and the penalties of harassing a colleague should all be outlined in the policy. When victims of harassment are harassed online, they often don't know what to do or who to turn to. They will feel safer and more in charge if they have a clear policy in place.


Anti-harassment rules should be shared with new employees at onboarding, including in employee handbooks, and posted on internal communication channels like Slack.


When an incidence of online harassment is brought to a manager's notice, it's critical that they refer to the company's anti-harassment policy and take appropriate action, whether that includes issuing a formal warning, speaking with the offender, or terminating their job. In some cases, the complainant may need further assistance.


Despite the fact that the great majority of employees are now online (both personally and professionally), few are aware of how to safeguard their digital privacy. Both employees and employers can benefit from digital security and anti-harassment training.

Too many people disclose their personal information online without considering the repercussions