Cyberbullying in the workplace- an invisible fist “hits” the hardest
Thesis (MCom)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.
ENGLISH SUMMARY : Cyberbullying is a very serious and pressing recent phenomenon, however very little research covers the scope of cyberbullying amongst employees. The purpose of this study has been to determine the extent to which workplace cyberbullying is prevalent in South-African organisations, some risk factor associated with it, whether it has a negative psychological effect and performance effect on employees, and whether coping mechanisms help to alleviate the negative effects. A descriptive, diagnostic and quantitative research design was followed and a sample of employees (N = 152) was drawn from a big public utility provider, where they completed an online survey. It was found cyberbullying is prevalent, where it co-occurs with traditional bullying. This study found that there were differences in the psychological characteristics of (a) perceived stress, (b) ICT demands, and (c) the extent of behavioural experiences of bullying when considering the psychological effects of cyberbullying on the individual. Additional emotional reactions to cyberbullying were lowered trust levels, anger, humiliation and emotional exhaustion. In terms of the effects on performance, the overall experience of bullying, rather than specific cyberbullying events, was found to likely to decrease an individual's performance, whereas no support for the effects on organisational outcomes was found. Possible coping mechanisms were found to have varying degrees of effectiveness for alleviating the effects of bullying on perceived stress. Interestingly, coping mechanisms used specifically for cyberbullying increased the adverse effects on ICT demands. This finding indicates that additional coping mechanisms to deal with ICT demands should also be considered. From these results, one can see that cyberbullying is prevalent in the workplace and that it poses a problem in addition to that of traditional bullying.
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