Email is encouraging workplace bullies, a report commissioned by Novell has found.
Bullying in the workplace has exploded in the form of "flame-mails", which Novell defines as abusive Emails, claims the study, carried out by the Ronin market research agency among 1,043 UK adults.
Over half those surveyed said they regularly receive flame mails, and 54% said they have experienced electronic bullying by their superiors.
These are usually the subject's immediate managers, and are usually male.
Men are five times more likely to be bullies than women, the report found.
"Email encourages managers who wouldn't normally be so aggressive to be more aggressive," explained psychologist Dr David Lewis. "It's much easier to be rude to people in print than it is face to face."
Lewis identified three key reasons why Email aggravates the problem of workplace bullying: the recipient loses the benefit of being able to judge the speaker by body language; Emails can be easily copied to the entire office or company; and they tend to be short and sharp, so can end up being brusquer than the sender intended. He added that the speed of transmission is also a factor, as people can send off angry Emails hastily, without considering their possible effect.
Bullying by Email is a serious problem, Novell believes. The report found one worker in 70 had left a company because of receiving a flame-mail, and Novell calculates that Britain loses #10 billion a year in lost productivity because of flame-mail and junk mail.
Proceeds from the sales of the report will be donated to the Andrea Adams Trust, a charity set up last week to help the victims of workplace bullying.
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