Understanding Workplace Harassment

Yan Krukau/pexels.com. Workplace harrassment is a serious issue that can have profound effects on individuals and organizations.

Workplace harassment is a serious issue that can have profound effects on individuals and organizations. It encompasses a wide range of behaviors that create a hostile or intimidating work environment, making it difficult for employees to perform their jobs effectively.

Workplace harassment can take many forms from verbal abuse and intimidation to unwanted physical contact and discrimination. It can occur between coworkers, supervisors, clients, or anyone else in the workplace.

Verbal harassment includes insults, derogatory comments, and offensive jokes targeted at an individual or group based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or other protected characteristics. This type of harassment can be overt or subtle, but its impact on the victim’s well-being and job performance can be significant.

Sexual harassment involves unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. This type of behaviour can create a hostile work environment and can have serious consequences for both the victim and the perpetrator.

Harassment can also take the form of bullying or intimidation, where individuals use their power or influence to belittle or undermine or threaten others in the workplace. This can include spreading rumours, sabotaging work projects, or excluding individuals from professional opportunities.

Discriminatory harassment occurs when individuals are treated unfairly or differently due to their membership in a protected class, such as race, gender, age, disability, or religion. This can manifest in hiring decisions, promotion opportunities, or daily interactions in the workplace.

Workplace harassment can have significant consequences for both individuals and organizations. Victims may experience emotional distress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues, which can impact their ability to perform their jobs effectively and lead to absenteeism or turnover.

In addition to the harm it causes to individuals, harassment can also damage morale, productivity, and reputation within an organization, leading to decreased employee satisfaction and increased legal and financial risks.

To address harassment effectively, organizations must have clear policies and procedures in place for reporting and addressing complaints. This includes providing training for employees and managers on what constitutes harassment and how to prevent it, as well as establishing channels for reporting incidents confidentially and without fear of retaliation.

Additionally, organizations must take all complaints of harassment seriously and conduct prompt and thorough investigations to ensure that appropriate disciplinary action is taken against perpetrators.

By creating a culture of respect and inclusivity, organizations can help prevent workplace harassment and create environments where all employees feel safe, valued, and able to contribute their best work.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning psychologist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books, CDs or MP3s, visit www.gwen.ca. Follow Gwen on Facebook for inspiration.