These include threats and other offensive behaviour such as unpleasant and derogatory comments, blackmail, hate messages, harassment, including sexual harassment, etc. Digital harassment via e-mail, telephone, websites and social media has affected 28% of employees over the past 12 months, according to data from the National Observatory of the Working Environment for Employees (NOA-L).
As a result, the Work Environment Authority wants to alert employers and employees to what to do about these attitudes through a campaign: “Messages, comments and calls shouldn’t cause stomach aches – Are you talking about digital harassment?”. On the dedicated website, it indicates how, as an employer or manager, you can prevent digital harassment:
- Talk openly about digital harassment. It is important for the workplace to have a common understanding of what digital harassment is.
- Have a clear policy or guidelines on how you deal with digital harassment.
- Be clear about the division of responsibilities and tasks.
- Prepare and inform about preventive measures. These may include conflict-reducing communication skills.
- Make sure that all employees know how to report harassment (e.g. by taking a screenshot).
- Map the nature and extent of digital harassment. Find out about digital harassment and investigate previous episodes. This can help you to carry out an ongoing risk assessment and adapt your prevention work.
Work-related digital harassment can continue after work, at weekends and on public holidays. It can have major consequences for employees: sleep problems, weakened self-confidence, lower quality of work, increased sickness absence and resignations, etc.
As with physical risks, it is important to have a plan in place within the company if an employee is attacked digitally. This could be an emergency plan where employees know who to contact and how to deal with harassment if they are exposed to it.