Why its Important to Address Low-Level Harassment in the Workplace
We’ve all joked about disliking that one co-worker anecdotally to friends on a Friday night, however experiencing workplace aggression on any level, in any form, from any individual at work, be it from your Manager or Co-worker is a serious and intrinsic workplace issue. Its long-term, negative effects on companies is only just starting to be studied.
A survey by an online recruitment portal found that out of the 10,000 respondents of those currently in full-time employment, 64% of employees from various countries stated they had either been:
- Hurt in a physical way.
- Reduced to tears.
- Had work performance suffer as a result.
These are very aggressive actions however there are other subtler forms of workplace mistreatment, less overt than bullying which can be insidious and just as damaging to mental health in the long term.
With demands increasing for more connectivity and productivity, cross-team collaboration is needing to be streamlined more than ever before. As daily workplace pressures grow, interactions between team members may give rise to friction, this is normal. However without proper regulation, even outwardly minor acts of incivility, such as persistent ignoring or rudeness to others, can have negative effects on productivity.
According at California State University, when individuals are isolated or treated with dis-courteousness, they may feel stressed, start having self-blaming thought patterns, or withdraw from social interactions entirely.
Countering the Opportunity for Low-Level Harassment to Occur
However, when the mistreated individual shares the same bad experience with a colleague, the impact of the harm is lessened. There are also effective steps employers can actively take. To curb bullying behaviour at the office, companies can establish basic ground rules in the form of an HR handbook, with built in intervention mechanisms to lessen or prevent workplace discourtesy.
A first step would include clearly defining what constitutes an uncivil act in your office culture. From this as a starting point, companies can devise HR training programmes for employees about rudeness, which can be included as a section for quarterly appraisals or similar performance review meetings.
Identifying clear warning signs of stress or a disgruntled employee; supervisors can more easily identify specific areas for intervention in a timely manner.
Secondly, companies should encourage the leaders in their departments to intervene and make an example of inappropriate behaviour whenever it arises. It is important for top management to lead by example, and no company leaders should turn a blind eye when they observe employees behaving rudely to each other, no matter how trivial it may be.
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