Cyber bullying & Social Media – how is it impacting your workplace? 5 Common problems and prompts to tackle them

This month we’re covering a range of cyber issues, and how social media is being used – or abused in the workplace.

From employees wasting away their days on your watch on Facebook or other platforms, to serious breaches and misconduct – some in which criminal charges are laid – business owners are increasingly approaching me about how to handle issues to do with social media.

Here are five problems and how you can deal with them.


1. Excessive amounts of time on Social Media that doesn’t contribute to business activities

It is one of the most frustrating things to see from an employers’ perspective. You walk into your office, only to be met with sheepish dear-in-a-headlight eyes and half a dozen tabs rushingly flicked over from a cat in a Halloween costume to the spreadsheets you’re paying your staff to complete.

The use of social media is so ingrained in the majority of workplaces now, that a flat out ban of social media is difficult for most businesses.

We are met with so many technological distractions, across a multi-channel universe in this day and age – that it is almost impossible not to “quickly respond to that Facebook message” or justify to yourself that a quick scroll on LinkedIn or Instagram will take 5 minutes (which turns into 30, 40, 60 minutes).

What’s important is this – how important is social media to the success of your business? Are the benefits and advantages to your staff using & familiarising themselves with particular platforms worth loosening your social media policies?


Try this: Instead of seeing social media as the enemy – allow staff to use social media sparingly and set the standard that’s appropriate for your business.


Are you a trade business or in childcare? It’s likely your staff don’t need it to succeed in their role. In this case – set the standard and communicate that you have a “social media free zone” between 9 and 5.

If you have a business that requires staff to use social media – those in such role – work it into their weekly task allocation to research one feature of the platform and provide a short presentation back to the team and how it can be utilised in the business.


2. Bullying via text, social media and other carriages

Bullying in the workplace doesn’t only happen inside the walls of the office.

It is now becoming an increasing problem of social media being used to harass someone. Not only is it a serious case of misconduct – but it can also be a criminal act.

Bullying and social media misconduct can include verbal abuse over a message, sending images and videos of violence or sexual nature as well as sharing images and content of a staff member with the aims to humiliate, embarrass or condemn them.


Try this: Communicate to your staff that you have a zero-tolerance to bullying in the workplace and online. Have social media policies in place that clearly define what bullying and harassment online look like and what actions the business will take if a staff member is found to violate these terms.


3. Inappropriate sharing of sensitive material

You’ve just been forwarded on a screenshot from an acquaintance of a Facebook post shared by a new graduate employee in your business.

“So excited about what we’re doing at work at the moment! The business I work for is a part of a $12 million project and we’ve negotiated a deal with the Government to get a $63,000 discount on our next project with them. My boss has a meeting with Graham Harding at Glenelg next Tuesday to talk about more projects.”

How do you handle staff members sharing confidential and sensitive information?  This is something that is a particularly problematic issue with Generation Z employees (we have a whole series coming up on this – so hang tight!).


Try this: Act fast. Request your staff member to remove any sensitive information from their social media platforms immediately. Explain to them in person the impact this has for the business. Be clear on what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate to share on social media in regards to the business.


4. Venting about the business/management

You’ve just come across an employee who has been underperforming for a few months now sharing on social media about how much he hates his job…

Sometimes people have a bad day and need to get it off their chest. Nowadays… social media often appears to be the place to do that.

This situation is unfortunately all too common and is a spectrum-based scenario that requires a range of different approaches.

“Venting” online can range from – “had a really bad day at work today…” to “I’m going to kill my manager in his sleep…”

What is the nature of people’s vents? Is it coming from a significant and actionable disturbance of behaviour, or is it an indicator of work dissatisfaction?

In some cases – legal and formal action may be required including termination of employment.


This can occur when:

  • An employee has made defamatory remarks about the business;
  • An employee has threatened the safety of another person or business;
  • Damage has occurred to the employer’s brand;
  • Trust has been violated in the employment relationship;
  • Conflicts have occurred in some way with the employee’s duties to their employer.


5. Misconduct outside of work

What happens when you come across footage or social media content of an employee behaving badly?

Many argue, or feel lost in the pursuit of taking action on behaviour by an employee that occurs outside of work – in their own time.

However, you do have grounds to take action on particular areas. You have the right to take action on any social media post involving an employee that shows:

  • Discrimination, bullying or harassment
  • Criminal behaviour
  • Something that impacts on the business


Try this: In the case of bullying, harassment and discrimination – ensure sound policies, procedures and workplace culture are apparent in your business to avoid liability where cases of inappropriate use of social media may arise.


For more information on how you can protect your business, email us directly at to organise a one-on-one consultation.