Harassment in the Workplace: How To Deal With It?

Workplace harassment is frequent, yet it is rarely discussed openly in most workplaces. Harassment at work creates a toxic and harmful working environment. Because many people are unsure what constitutes workplace harassment, the majority of incidents go unnoticed and unreported. Any organization’s resources, namely its people, are critical to its success. 

A distracting and unpleasant work environment can negatively influence your company’s productivity, employee relations, and reputation in the marketplace. As a result, maintaining civility and a zero-tolerance policy for harassment is essential for any company’s success.

What is Workplace Harassment?

When an employee or a group of employees feels threatened or belittled by their coworkers, this is known as workplace harassment. A workplace harasser’s main goal is to make their victims feel unsafe and uncomfortable. Harassment in the workplace refers to insulting or threatening behavior directed against a single employee or a group of employees.

Harassment in the Workplace: Different Types

Even the most careful HR practitioner could miss the signals of workplace harassment because there are so many sorts and interpretations. Here are a few examples:

1. Discriminatory Harassment 

Discrimination is inherent in all forms of illegal workplace harassment. Discriminatory harassment, unlike verbal or physical harassment, is defined by its goals rather than how it is carried out. Discriminatory harassment in its most common and recognized forms is explained below.

  • Racial Harassment: Racial harassment can occur due to a victim’s ethnicity, skin color, heritage, origin country, or citizenship.
  • Gender Harassment: Gender-based harassment is when someone is treated unfairly because of their gender. Harassment is frequently motivated by negative gender preconceptions about how men and women should or do act.
  • Religious Harassment: Religious harassment is often linked to racial harassment, but it focuses on the victim’s religious beliefs.
  • Disability-Based Harassment: Disability-based harassment is a sort of workplace harassment directed towards those who have a disability, know someone who has a disability, or use disability services (such as sick leave or workers’ compensation).
  • Sexual Orientation-Based Harassment: Sexual orientation-based Harassment is gaining popularity and is recognized as a genuine form of workplace harassment. Because of sexual orientation, victims are subjected to harassment. Depending on their line of employment, people of any sexual orientation (heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual, etc.) may be subjected to this type of harassment.

2. Personal Harassment

Simply put, it’s bullying in its most basic form, and while it’s not criminal, it may still be harmful.

3. Physical Harassment 

Physical harassment, particularly known as workplace violence, is a form of harassment that involves physical assaults or threats. Physical harassment can be classified as assault in extreme situations. Physical gestures like lighthearted shoving can blur the line between appropriate and inappropriate because the person on the receiving end is the one who chooses if the action bothers them.

4. Power Harassment 

Power harassment is a type of workplace harassment in which the harasser and the harassed have an unequal power relationship. The harasser wields authority by tormenting a victim who is lower on the corporate ladder. The harasser is frequently a supervisor or management who targets subordinates.

5. Psychological Harassment 

Psychological harassment has a harmful impact on an individual’s mental health. Psychological harassment victims frequently feel humiliated and dismissed on personal, professional, or both levels. Damage to a victim’s psychological well-being frequently has a cascading effect, affecting their physical health, social life, and professional life.

Other types of harassment in the workplace include cyberbullying, retaliation, sexual harassment, verbal harassment, etc.

How to Deal With Harassment?

Here are some helpful tips for efficiently coping with harassment:

  • Make the Most of Your Resources

The first thing you should do is look over your company’s employee handbook.

  • It Should Be Reported

Any harassment should be reported right away. To be legally culpable, your employer must know or have cause to know about the harassment. Tell your boss, a human resources representative, or the person in your company who is in charge of dealing with harassment.

  • Make a Note of It

Write down everything that happens to you as soon as you are harassed. Record dates, places, timings, and probable witnesses as precisely as possible. Because others may read this written record in the future, be as accurate and objective as possible.

  • Converse With Your Coworkers

If you aren’t the only one who has been harassed, have your coworkers write down and report their incidents.

  • Get Witnesses

If it is safe to do so, speak with other coworkers who may have observed your harassment. You might be able to identify witnesses, supporters, or others who have been harassed by the same person or who are ready to back up your claim.

  • Collect Information

In the initial complaint, make a list of the important persons and situations to look into. Give the investigating office whatever they need to carry out the investigation based on current information.

  • Take Support From Friends and Family

Inform supporting friends, family, and coworkers of the abuse. Speaking with others about the harassment can provide much-needed support and help you clarify and process everything that has occurred, which may aid your company’s investigation or legal case.

Advantages of a Harassment-Free Environment

Offending coworkers, even inadvertently, can permanently ruin a working relationship. Employers must ensure that such issues are avoided before they occur. In order to ensure a harassment-free workplace, everyone has a duty to play. Mutual trust and understanding are the foundations of a harassment-free workplace. Some advantages of working in a harassment-free environment include:

  • Employees in a harassment-free workplace are more focused on their work than employees in a harassed workplace. Furthermore, in a harmonious work atmosphere, employee cooperation is enhanced. Employee-client connections are also positive in such businesses.
  • Employees trust their employers more in a harassment-free workplace. They prefer to air their issues through internal channels. They would approach the employer first, rather than making a complaint with the authorities.
  • Lower absenteeism is also a benefit of a harassment-free workplace. Employees will be more likely to report to work if they feel safe. Employee turnover is also lower in such establishments.
  • Businesses with a harassment-free workplace culture have a strong market reputation. Customers and clients are reported to be more satisfied with such businesses than their competitors.
  • Employee loyalty, employee cooperation, and increased employee engagement are three key indicators of a successful organization. All three gain from a harassment-free workplace.
  • It is in the employer’s best interests to create a workplace free of harassment and encourage employees to treat one another with respect. This can be accomplished by having a clear harassment policy, a welcoming attitude toward complaints, and regular harassment prevention training is all required.

A toxicity-free, positive, and harassment-free workplace reduces employee disengagement and boosts productivity. As a result, you must ensure that your workplace does not promote harassment or discrimination against anyone. 

If you think someone else is being harassed, tell them you support them and encourage them to take these steps. Allow no one to dismiss harassment as innocuous or a normal part of the workplace culture. It is everyone’s obligation to combat workplace harassment.

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