According to the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, surveys show that 5% of workers reported being subject to some form of harassment/bullying in 2005. Although there are laws to deal with flagrant versions of these social interactions in the workplace, they are often glossed over in an attempt to avoid additional conflict. These behaviors are often ignored, but this is unacceptable and sometimes dangerous. These actions between coworkers can lead to an increasingly hostile environment.
Harassment can be loosely defined as when a person is subjected to behavior that is repeated, unwelcomed, unsolicited, or offensive. Meaning that according to the survey quoted above, 5 out of every 100 workers are being subjected to some form of harassment in the workplace.
Bullying in the workplace can lead to lower self-esteem, increased stress, and trigger depression. Co-workers may think something along the lines of: ‘it’s just a joke,’ or ‘he/she will get over it.’ Although, it’s important to realize that while sometimes this might be true, there are some cases that can escalate and could result in serious side effects. If ignored, harassment can lead to lower quality output, whether in the product line or customer service, possibly leading to company ethics violations. In extreme cases, it can lead to P.T.S.D. and even homicides and/or suicides. Harassment is not a joking matter.
It is better to prevent harassment than to have to deal with the costs of counseling and possible compensation that may be required after the harassment has occurred.
Five important steps to take to help prevent harassment include:
- Outline and clearly state unacceptable behavior.
- Keep an up to date anti-harassment policy.
- Provide conflict management training.
- Have clear and strict consequences for harassment complaints.
- Maintain confidentiality with all internal issues, making sure rumors cannot be spread due to breached confidentiality.
Always report any suspected harassment, bullying, or discrimination to your PR representative, your union (if applicable), or to the proper supervisor.
Remember: even if you get a good laugh, the potential risks of workplace harassment are not a joke.
Thank you for your time and attention. Let’s make it safe this Monday.
Demand Generation Specialist, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company