Your workplace should provide a comfortable, safe, secure, and fair environment to work in. However, certain actions by some individuals can make surviving and working in an office extremely miserable. Any form of harassment in a professional environment should be obviated. However, identifying workplace harassment can be quite ambiguous. Simultaneously, allegations without concrete evidence can make the environment more hostile, which can increase the risk factors associated with the trouble you are currently experiencing. Whether you are an employee or an employer, you must learn to identify workplace harassment to prevent it.

This guide will help you identify and prevent workplace harassment.

Identifying Workplace Harassment

Look for these signs to point out issues and harassment in your office environment –

Negative Stereotyping

Any comments related to a person’s gender, race, color, sexual orientation, nationality, age, disability, or culture, if repeatedly used by an individual to target another employee, is considered a form of harassment. It can be verbal abuse, written material, or graphical representation circulated in the workplace, put up on bulletin boards, or directly addressed to the person. It is usually targeted towards an individual or a group of employees.

Constant Use of Abusive Slurs

Abusive slurs used by an individual in an office environment is often ignored. However, if done excessively, it is labeled as harassment. Simultaneously, inappropriate jokes made on a person’s appearance, financial background, or similar shortcomings fall under harassment. If you notice any employee addressing others with verbal abuses or harsh words daily, strict action must be taken against them. In extreme cases, abusive slurs also turn into a physical assault.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual misconduct is unlawful and prohibited in all office settings. Circulating pinups, making vile comments about a person’s body, inappropriate touching, or sexual threats and assaults are forms of sexual harassment. While most sexual harassment victims in an office setting are women, men can be a target of such episodes. If instant action is not taken, such minor forms of sexual harassment can quickly turn into severe circumstances that can take place outside the workplace.

Preventing Workplace Harassment

Now that you are aware of the types of harassment that commonly take place in an office environment take these measures to eradicate them:

Establish a No-nonsense, Zero Tolerance Policy

By establishing this policy, you can have total control of your workplace’s environment, ultimately making your employees comfortable and pushing them to work in harmony. You may have to take help from your HR department to draft a clear zero-tolerance policy and ensure that your employees abide by it. The draft should include clauses that support anti-discrimination and anti-workplace harassment. More importantly, it should be easy to understand and sound strict.

Craft Training Programs

Specialized training programs that fight workplace bullying and harassment must be held regularly. While all employees should be instructed to attend these programs and seminars, make it mandatory for your managers and supervisors to take care of this matter in the future. They should be able to identify signs of workplace harassment and take necessary actions to prevent it. Since understanding relevant incidences can be confusing, these training programs will help your employees draw a line, which will eventually make managing sexual harassment in the workplace easier. At the same time, they will be able to understand signs of instigation and vulnerability.

workplace bullying

Investigate All Complaints and Take Them Seriously

If you manage to encourage your employees to gather courage, speak up, and report it to the manager in charge, you will be surprised to see the number of issues that take place in your workplace. As soon as a complaint is lodged, dig deeper, and investigate the matter. Talk to the people involved in respective incidents and make an unbiased judgment. Stay objective and view the case without considering the person’s current reputation. At the same time, do not consider the person who made the complaint to be oversensitive. Talk to other employees who work in the same office or shared desks. If the person is found guilty, take strict action, and make sure that no other employee repeats the mistake.

If you encounter any of these incidents at your workplace, it is time to take serious action. As an employer, identifying and preventing workplace harassment will not only maintain your company’s reputation, but you will also gain your employees’ trust, which will benefit your company’s progress in a way. You have to make your employees feel safe and provide a secure environment to work and interact with.