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How To handle a Hostile Work Environment?
Latest Social Impact Jobs, A Hostileworking environment is where employees are not secured, and uncomfortable, scared or intimidated due to conduct of other employees, or their employers
It is not unusual to have a misunderstanding with your workmates. All of us have different personalities and came from different backgrounds. Differences, therefore, are expected. Sometimes, it is even healthy to have minimal conflict every once in a while. If there is tension, there is always the need for conversation, which is a good thing.
Sometimes though, behaviour can go out of hand. It can poison the atmosphere in the workplace. Situations can be that toxic that productivity and efficiency may suffer. This is not a good thing. It may affect the performance of everyone, which, overall, may have negative and detrimental effects on the company. It is worse if rights are violated.
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Everyone needs to work in an environment that follows the rule of law, proper behaviour, and ethical conduct. The working environment needs to promote confidence and boosts the morale of its employees. An environment that promotes these things can be described as a healthy working environment.
The exact opposite of a healthy working environment is a hostile working environment. What then, is a hostile working environment?
In this article, we will talk about:
Defining a hostile working environment
A hostile working environment is a working environment where employees are not secured, and uncomfortable, scared or intimidated due to bad behaviour or conduct of other employees, or their employers. Bad conduct harms the morale and confidence of employees and may affect their performance and productivity.
Employers and employees behaving badly may be due to several factors. An abusive personality is one reason. Another reason is the prevailing discriminatory practices against gender, race, or age at the workplace. These practices may result in abusive behaviour or abuse of power and privilege. Other employees may experience discrimination and harassment in the workplace as a result.
What behaviours are considered criteria for a hostile work environment?
Some behaviors are obvious and illegal, that to consider them as criteria for having a hostile work environment is a no-brainer. Most of them, however, are not easily recognized and involves a lot of gray areas. Here are some behaviors that, if exhibited by employers, or employees, can be considered as criteria for a hostile work environment.
The most obvious of all behavior is discrimination due to gender, race, age, religion, sexual, orientation, disability, country of origin, or ethnicity. Discrimination is outright illegal in most countries and is considered a form of hostile behavior.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It is the agency tasked to investigate accusations of discrimination in the workplace.
Discrimination, even when benign or even innocent, promotes attitudes of hostility towards the discriminated. It can have severe consequences and can lead to abusive behavior as well as to the pervasiveness of discrimination itself. That is why discrimination must be discouraged in all its form and if possible, punished accordingly.
In the context of the workplace, it can be defined as acting outside or beyond what is considered to be acceptable behavior. An abusive person has overstepped the limits of what he/she must be doing. To do something which is not within one’s power, or acting unreasonably towards others, and doing it pervasively.
Examples of this are illegal acts, like sexual harassment. It will also include verbal abuse, insults, and innuendoes. Another example would be unreasonable behavior. Another still is the abuse of power or privilege. Abusing the goodwill of others, violating acceptable norms, and proper decorum in workplace can also be considered as a form of abusive behavior.
Aside from violating the rights of others, abusive behavior poisons the atmosphere in the workplace and of the working environment. To have persons, employees, or bosses exhibiting abusive behavior is a sure sign of a hostile working environment.
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Pervasive and severe behavior
Some behavior can be considered hostile even though it is neither illegal nor abusive. If this type of behavior becomes pervasive, it can disrupt harmony in the workplace. It can affect the relationship of employees among each other, or the employer-employee relationship itself. It can affect the morale of the employees as well as the productivity and efficiency of the company.
Some of this behavior would seem harmless at first, but can be considered hostile and contributes to a hostile work environment if it becomes consistent and pervasive. Among these are all sorts of annoying behavior like pervasive teasing, constant gossiping, sowing intrigues, constant bullying, and the like.
Other forms of behavior such as laziness, tardiness, and always being absent for no reason at all, though not hostile in itself, could create the atmosphere for a hostile work environment. Especially so if the cases mentioned are severe and pervasive. It can create resentment among employees, causing intrigues, and eventually, low morale for the employees and the company itself.
The employer must make sure that he sets the example. Employers must make employees accountable for their hostile behavior. Employers must be accountable themselves. Failure to do so will lead to incidences of hostile behavior which will eventually lead to having a hostile work environment.
For instance, if the employer has failed to investigate and address the issue at hand, let say sexual harassment, it may lead to resentment by other employees. It either may lead to bad relationships among employees, or it could lead to an ever-increasing incidence of harassment and other violations.
Things that must be addressed by the employer must be addressed. This is to ensure compliance with laws, rules, norms, and ethical standards in the workplace. The employer must be the paragon of virtue and proper conduct. If employers cannot be accountable for mistakes and violations, they do not have the moral authority to hold others accountable. A hostile work environment may result.
Having a low morale
You surely have a hostile work environment if the employees who are victim of hostile behaviors have low morale. The victim’s desire, or ability to work, has been affected. They will perform poorly in their task, and will no longer be engaged in participating in the discussions or brainstorming. Employees are no longer engaged in their work if their morale is low.
What contributes to incidences of behavior that leads to a hostile work environment, is the indifference of employers. Employers need to care for the welfare of their employees. As such, they must listen to the complaints of their employees with regards to certain behaviors, hostile or not, that affect the performance and productivity of the company.
For instance, the employer knew about the hostile behavior but did not adequately intervene, it can lead to demoralization of that employee. The employee and others can be indifferent to the plight of others. Worse, they might also exhibit hostile behavior themselves among each other. This is a sure recipe for a hostile work environment, something which every employer will want to avoid.
How to handle or deal with a hostile work environment?
Applying the rule of law is one way to deal immediately with a hostile work environment. Discriminatory acts, as well as abusive behavior punishable by law, must be dealt with accordingly and severely. The victims must report to their employers and the proper authorities incidences of such kind.
Doing so will prevent incidences, discriminatory, abusive, most kinds of hostile behavior. It will make everyone compliant with the rules as prescribed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, whether employers or employees. Punishing errant employers and employees due to hostile behavior will promote a healthy working environment for everyone.
You must also be proactive, and call out employers and fellow employees exhibiting hostile and unacceptable behavior. It is a way of preventing hostile behavior that may lead to a hostile work environment. Some people may not realize that they are already overstepping the bounds of what is acceptable. Being honest is a good way to promote a nice working relationship with other people.
Originally published at https://diversity.social/hostile-work-environment/