Most people spend the majority of their weekday hours getting ready for work, commuting to and from work and actively working. As a standard rule of thumb, we make it a priority to ensure we live in a safe environment at home--free from negative energy. But what about our work environment? How can we ensure the environment is safe there as well?
Some typical issues encountered in the workplace that can be bothersome include poor lighting and fluctuating temperatures, but other issues that are surprisingly common that can seriously undermine employee health are workplace bullying and sexual harassment. These types of behavior can have an extremely negative impact on the well-being, productivity, and health of everyone in the office, not just those directly involved. Creating a safe work environment means focusing on culture and eliminating harmful behavior.
Many people think these negative behaviors stop once the graduation caps have been tossed in the air. Unfortunately, bullying is a common problem that can occur in any setting involving a large group of people, and the workplace is no exception. With digital tools like office chatrooms, texting, and email, there are more ways than ever for abusers to target others. Workplace harassment can encompass a number of harmful behaviors, including threats, humiliation, sabotage, and intimidation. It is this repeated harassment that can affect the victim’s ability to concentrate and/or feel safe at work.
One of the biggest problems with workplace harassment is that many people don’t recognize it when they see it. Not all harassment is obvious. Sometimes, it’s subtle and the effects build up over time. Alternatively, the abuser may be using digital tools that no one else can see rather than engaging in inappropriate behavior in front of others. In other cases, people that are witness to bullying may not feel safe coming forward. Research indicates that a shocking 37% of workers in the United States have been directly bullied in the workplace. When you factor in the people who witnesses bullying, the number reaches 49%. All in all, even if a person hasn’t been bullied on the job, chances are they know someone who has. Because of the negative consequences, these behaviors are a leading contributor of toxic work environments around the country.
Not only does workplace harassment cause victims to lose their confidence and experience increased stress, it can also lead to poor productivity, illness, and possibly, to the person quitting. A toxic culture increases turnover rates and can even open up companies to legal trouble if allowed to continue.
Workplace harassment is a serious issue and should therefore, be handled promptly. Not only can it lead to mental and physical health problems for your employees, it can also impact your bottom line and even hurt your reputation. Eliminating toxic behavior through education and awareness are key when it comes to ending workplace harassment of any kind and of the utmost importance in creating a safe and healthy work environment. Mandatory trainings for managers and employees, strict policies on harassment, and other safeguards can help ensure a safe and healthy environment for all.
This article was created in collaboration with Quinn Cooley of DC Scholarships.