Physical harassment refers to a type of harassment that is often related to violence, like physical attacks or threats. In extreme cases, physical harassment is also classified as sexual assault. Some acts like unnecessary touching, negative blackmailing, damaging private property, threats, assaults, etc., also come under physical harassment. Most minorities or LGBTQ+ communities are most likely to face such kind of physical harassment at work.
Offenders or haters can downplay some physical harassment in the form of dirty tricks, inappropriate comments, personal humiliation, offensive jokes, critical remarks, intimidation tactics, ostracizing behavior, and sometimes intentionally to put someone in trouble. It can still be considered physical harassment. However, it depends on the person receiving this kind of behavior that it is appropriate or a threat.
Various people perceive physical harassment in various manners. Though some people may think that physical gestures like fun shoving are innocuous, the person on the other end is also the one who judges whether or not the touch was bothersome enough to have been termed assault. Sexual misconduct or assault was reported by 15% of female teachers and 6% of male teachers.
Examples of Physical Harassment in the Workplace
There are several examples of physical harassment, but the main ones are:
- ? Touching someone without consent.
- ? Attacking physically like hitting, pushing, or kicking.
- ?Destroying or damaging someone’s personal property.
- ?Offensive warnings or threatening behavior.
- ? Pressurizing a sexual relationship with a supervisor or manager.
- Characteristics of pursuing actions.
- The repetitive instance of neck massage or grabbing someone by the waist or a shoulder is sexual.
- Direct humiliation of intent to inflict harm.
How Does Physical Harassment Affect Employees?
Let’s explore more extensively how physical harassment affects workplace employees.
- ? Serious Impact on Employee Productivity
A negative workplace reduces employee’s productivity. When an employee has an experience or incident of physical harassment in the workplace, the output will be automatically affected. Physical harassment causes job dissatisfaction, disengagement, tardiness, absenteeism, neglecting project behavior, and employee destruction.
A survey shows that the 262 women who had reported being physically harassed found that nearly 75% of them affected their job performance. They have decreased their motivation to work and are unable to concentrate on their work due to sexual insinuation.
When a workplace is affected by discrimination and harassment, everyone suffers. The high rates of physical harassment are more common in an environment with low productivity. Witnesses or victims of physical harassment are more likely to quit the job or high employee turnover. A toxic work environment will also make recruiting top talent more difficult.
- ? It Directly Impacts the Branding
The study clearly shows that when a witness or victim can directly develop negative generalizations for a customer, they will be less likely to purchase from the firm. The research also found that victims or witnesses who have experienced physical harassment will even actively provoke potential customers not to purchase products or services from the company.
Physical harassment also decreases the chances of new employees joining the company because the witness or victims discourage potential employees from joining the company.
- ? Physical Harassment Impacts the Mental Health of an Employee
The trauma of physical harassment has many effects on a person’s mental health. Victims who have suffered this physical harassment have an almost 3x higher risk of developing depression. The victim can also experience stress reactions, sleep disorders, high blood pressure, and low self-esteem.
The study also shows that employees who observed physical harassment in the workplace were more likely to have lower psychological and physical well-being.
Steps to Check and Eliminate Physical Harassment in the Workplace
If a company has not come up with terms and conditions of the toxic workplace, Here are some proactive ways to help you to prevent or check physical harassment in the workplace that you can implement:
- ? Develop a Clear-cut and Zero-tolerance Anti-harassment Policy
This policy should contain the definition of physical harassment, stating that you will not tolerate any offensive comments, unnecessary touch, assault, or negative gestures, etc. This policy should also set out a clear procedure for filing any complaint about physical harassment. This should also state that everyone in the company will abide by the discipline and fire any wrongdoers.
Furthermore, this should also state that this policy will also investigate fully if any complaint is received. Also, everyone in a company will not tolerate retribution against anyone who complains about physical harassment.
- ? Specialized Training for Managers and Supervisors
A company should conduct training sessions for managers and supervisors at least two times a year. This session should teach the managers and supervisors about physical harassment, how to deal with the complaints, and learn more about dealing with the employee’s complaints.
Managers and supervisors must be skilled in recognizing when harassment occurs and making clear behaviors that can’t be tolerated under any circumstances. For this, it is important to be sufficiently trained, to be aware of how to respond to the complaints of physical harassment and consider that either a man or a woman or any other gender can instigate or become a victim of highly inappropriate illegal behavior.
- ?Awareness and Training Employees
There should also be a session for employees at least four times a year to review complaint procedures. The session should also include educating employees about what physical harassment is and explaining to them that employees have a right to work free of physical harassment.
Managers and supervisors should encourage the employees to use the complaint procedures and build a culture where physical harassment is unlikely to occur. Approximately 90% of employees thought that sexual harassment in the workforce did not occur in their company. Even still, numerous surveys from a few years ago demonstrate that many people believed sexual harassment was an issue.
- ? The Company should Ensure that Everyone Understands the Complaint Procedure
In an employee handbook and staff meetings, there is a clear layout of the process for filing a complaint of illegal or inappropriate behavior. It is possible to establish an environment in which unwelcome advances or other harassing behavior never occur if leaders and senior staff are committed.
The company should also make sure that each complaint of an individual is taken very seriously. The investigation will take place when it is necessary. If the employees feel safer and your business will be less likely to damage its reputation, that may come with the claims of physical harassment in the form of a toxic work environment.
It is critical for everyone throughout the organization to understand why an anti workplace harassment policy is needed and how they can report concerning problems. The effects of toxic workplace-associated litigation can present a danger to your business. By being proactive in operating comprehensive physical harassment prevention training, the company can reduce the likelihood of workplace physical harassment.