IT workers are most likely to be victimised via email than employees in any other sector, according to new research.
One in five IT workers has suffered from email bullying, compared to a national average of one in six, and one in seven for the public and financial sectors.
Some 46 per cent of the 796 respondents surveyed by internet job site reed.co.uk believe that the problem has grown over the past three years.
Email bullying is defined as the persistent sending of emails that harass or demean the recipient, explained Professor Cary Cooper, head of organisational psychology and health at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology.
A quarter of respondents blamed the problem on the ease with which emails are sent in the heat of the moment, and nearly a fifth said that emails are sent when it would have been easier to speak in person.
Richard Herring, a director at Reed Technology Group, said: "There is a reliance on email, and IT workers need to understand when, and when not, to send an email.
"The industry has an incredible familiarity and complacency with this technology, and this needs to be balanced by an awareness of the emotional aspects of communication."
Although 92 per cent of respondents claim that they have never been an email bully, Herring pointed out that "it is far easier to be a bully via email than the IT industry thinks".
Cooper suggested that the reason why email bullying is more common in the IT sector is because "the social skills of IT workers are not as good as in other sectors. Many of them come from a techie background and lack social and interpersonal skills."
He warned that the problem is growing in the sector as downsizing means that less people are doing more work. "They are under too much pressure, and stress can make the problem worse," said Professor Cooper.
Of the measures available to stop email bullying, 42 per cent of workers said that workplace lessons in email etiquette would help, and 34 per cent felt that clearer disciplinary procedures are needed.
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