- 2nd June, 1997 -
Electronic mail (email) is being abused as an easy means for individuals to bully and harass their colleagues, according to an independent research report released today from Novell UK and Ireland, the networking software company. The findings come at the same time as the launch of the first-ever workplace bullying charity, the Andrea Adams Trust.
Over half of the 1,043 people surveyed claimed to regularly receive 'flame-mails', or abusive e-mails. A further 25% said they knew of colleagues who regularly receive flame-mails. Of those, 84% said they could name up to ten colleagues who had been flamed. The majority of respondents are electronically bullied by their superiors (54%) and primarily by immediate managers. Men are the biggest bullies, being five times more likely than women to flame others.
Publication of the report, entitled Shaming, Blaming and Flaming: Corporate Miscommunication in the Digital Age, also coincides with a national conference on workplace bullying where Novell will be presenting the findings of the research to the public for the first time.*
According to the report, the abuse of e-mail can lead to stress, loss of confidence, loss of productivity and an avoidance of face-to-face communication with colleagues. In some cases, targets have been so traumatised by a flame-mail that they have left their jobs. Despite this, the overwhelming majority say they are dependent on e-mail to do their jobs and nearly 70% say they could not be without it.
Psychologist Dr David Lewis, who analysed the survey's findings, commented: "E-mail is completely void of the physical and tonal clues that face-to-face and voice communications provide to help interpret meaning. It also lacks the consideration and thought usually afforded to other forms of written communication. Instead, email is immediate, often impetuous and, consequently, wide open to misuse and misunderstanding."
Andrew Sadler-Smith, deputy managing director of Novell UK and Ireland, said, "The business potential of today's technology, and in particular email, is massive. However, this report clearly demonstrates that there is a darker side. In order to get the most benefit, employers must be fully aware of the dangers as well. Companies need to establish clear guidelines for email usage and a formal channel to deal with those who breach those guidelines."
Other key findings from the report include:
The report is based on a telephone survey of 1,043 employees from companies in the UK and Ireland where electronic mail is used for internal communication. The survey was commissioned by Novell and conducted by RONIN Research Services, a world-leading, independent, market research agency.Founded in 1983, Novell (NASDAQ: NOVL) is the world's leading provider of network software. The company offers a wide range of network solutions for distributed network, Internet/intranet and small-business markets, as well as the network computing industry's most comprehensive education and technical support programmes. Information about Novell and its complete range of products and services can be accessed on the World Wide Web at http://www.novell.com.
Novell's UK Web site is at http://www.uk.novell.com/uk/
* Copies of the report are available from Firefly
Communications, priced £40. A separate booklet of flame-mail definitions is also
available, priced £5. Proceeds from sales of the report will be donated to the
Andrea Adams Trust. Copies of the report are available at no-charge to press.
Firefly Communications, 25/4 The Coda Centre, 189 Munster Road, London SW6 6AW, Tel 0171 381 4505, email email@example.com
Novell will be presenting these findings for the first time at a national conference on 5 June 1997. The conference, Bullying: Its Recognition and Management at Work, will be held at Staffordshire University. Call Alison Parr on 01785 353401 for more press information.
Back to press releases index
The Field Foundation | Bully OnLine | Success Unlimited
Workplace bullying | School bullying | Family bullying
Stress, injury to health, PTSD and psychiatric injury
Action to tackle bullying | Bullying resources
Bullying news | Press and media centre
Bullying case histories | Related issues