Social Media Bullying in the Workplace: Impacts on Motivation, Productivity, and Workplace Culture

Social Media Bullying in the Workplace: Impacts on Motivation, Productivity, and Workplace Culture

Marcia Marie Herron
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4912-4.ch004
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Research has identified the prevalence and characteristics of workplace bullying, yet little research has specifically considered workplace cyberbullying. Therefore, in the present study, 49 employees across U.S. workplaces completed online surveys about workplace cyberbullying. Findings suggested that cyberbullying occurred across ethnicities and ages and more frequently reported by women. Women were also more often cyberbullying perpetrators. Cyberbullying persisted from a few days, 43%, to more than a year, 22%. Most reported bullying by more than one coworker, M = 2.41 (6.27), yet only in one workplace. Most victims had no warning signs that cyberbullying would arise. Many reported substantially decreased motivation and productivity from the cyberbullying. Despite known best preventive practices and costs of workplace bullying, most workers believed their companies lacked clear steps for reporting cyberbullying; of those who reported, most felt unsafe doing so, and many, 43%, indicated that reporting did not stop the cyberbullying.
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According to the Workplace Bullying Institute (2015), bullying in the workplace is one of the most intrusive behaviors and is associated with diminished worker motivation, productivity, and workplace culture. Individuals are often targeted and isolated through the use of gossip, abusive or violent language, and even bodily harm. Deviant behavior in the workplace – which includes theft, sabotage, misrepresentation of performance, and excessive absenteeism (Harvey, Martinko, & Borkowski, 2017) may arise in those who are bullied and often escalate over time if no intervention occurs to correct the bullying. With the advent of social media, workplace bullying has taken on more aggressive forms that encourage dangerous behavior from the perpetrators (Workplace Bullying Institute, 2015).

Research into social media and workplace bullying has begun to grow as social platforms have taken the place of other popular outlets for stress relief. According to Privitera and Campbell (2009), the use of social media and the Internet has increased sharply in recent years. With this increase, there is an increased level of bullying associated with more individual access to the Internet. Perpetrators are able to access their targets on a broader scale and on multiple platforms, often with the advantage of anonymity. The researchers further noted that there are different types of bullying associated with mobile and digital device, including cyberbullying and social media bullying. Cyberbullying is more personal and direct; social media bullying involves public bullying.

Mitsopoulou and Giovazolias (2015) found that males engage in cyber and social media bullying at higher rates than females. For instance, the results of a meta-analysis demonstrated that low levels of agreeableness and conscientiousness and high levels of extraversion and neuroticism were associated bullying and victimization. One of the many reasons that it is important to research social media bullying and its effects on employees is the social, psychological, and behavioral ramifications that occur with bullying. The workplace is intended to promote healthy behaviors that encourage productivity and motivation. Productivity in the workplace is defined as a measure of labor efficiency and organizational performance. Effectiveness, efficiency, and quality of work life are all contributors to productivity (Flynn, 2013). Motivation in the workplace is defined as a psychological process that directs individual’s choices regarding the type and intensity of their behavior (Sachau, 2013). By better understanding what leads to and sustains social media bullying, organizations may be more able to equip employees and managers with the appropriate intervention methods to avert such bullying behaviors (Mitsopoulou & Giovazolias, 2015).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Productive: Maintaining a set standard while completing a task in an appropriate amount of time.

Workplace: A place were multiple individuals contribute to conducting business.

Efficient: The ability to maintain balanced contribution in order to reach a desired goal.

Sociodemographic: The differences in a social environment including workplace, city, and state.

Statistical Analysis: The collection of data in an organized fashion to discover underlying scientific patterns.

Motivation: What keeps an individual on task until a goal is met.

Data Management: The process of collecting and storing information needed for personal, educational, business use.

Cyberbullying: The use of technology to impede opinions negatively toward another person.

Social media: A form of communication online where individuals can update others on daily activities and adventures. A way to stay socially engaged.

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