Hostile Work Environment: A Guide to Employers

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Hostile Work Environment

Success for any business starts from a workplace that’s accommodating for workers and managers. Specifically, the ideal work environment recognizes employees’ capabilities, assesses their needs, prioritizes open communication between parties, and provides opportunities for career growth.

By contrast, a hostile work environment disregards employees’ needs and concerns and feeds on negative issues like harassment, biases, misconduct, and unethical practices. As companies nowadays credit workplace quality to their successes, it is crucial to administer healthy workplaces and prevent hostile ones through these measures.

Set a values-driven culture

A company’s mission-and-vision statement sets the standard for values to drive a harmonious relationship with clients. However,living those values starts from the very culture that exists inside the company. Employers need to be conscious that employees model their colleagues’ ethics and performance.

As employer, you need to take the lead in incorporating a friendly atmosphere in the workplace by being sensitive and accommodating to the needs and inquiries of coworkers. Likewise, you should promote a culture of respect towards superiors and team members alike. Every employee has to imbibe the values the company represents.

Educate employees about company offenses

While company rules and regulations have been a staple during first-day orientations, employees tend to be less mindful of them once in their workplaces. Employers can implement a separate program to educate workers and supervisors on what behaviors fall under company offense.

Here are some steps you can take for your program:

  • Gather employee opinions and feedback as to what constitutes hostile work practices
  • List all possible offenses and then classify them into relevant categories
  • Communicate the findings through meetings and handbooks to guide managers and employees about violations that lead to hostile workplaces

Take the initiative on employee concerns and feedback

One of the factors that lead to hostile work environments is inaction to office concerns. Parties become adverse if their problems are left unchecked, gossiped around, or, in worse cases, used against them by other coworkers. Employers should create an impression of a cooperative workplace.

Aside from the customary employee evaluations, you could speak directly to employees for opinions and suggestions for improvement. Whenever employees raise concerns, regardless of their severity, assess them with the same urgency. The key here is to avoid complacency over employee morale or well-being.

Before the situation escalates, talk to the involved parties

Prevention is indeed better than cure. This applies as well when dealing with a hostile work environment. When an employee raises a hint of misconduct, employers must discuss the issue with both parties separately—keeping the matter confidential—to diffuse the situation and allow everyone to explain themselves.

Depending on the situation, you should call attention to the violation without casting guilt or bias on the employee. For example, if the offender’s violation falls under sexual harassment, you need to pinpoint the specific gesture deemed “harassing” in an objective manner.

Employ empathy consistently

It is part of an employer’s virtue to show empathy to employees. Employees should feel they belong and are taken good care of by the company. With that said, be genuinely concerned about every employee’s well-being.

Whenever hostile cases are reported, avoid taking sides and instead employ empathy to ease the situation. All parties involved should be given a chance to share their sentiments and insights, but don’t let their input cause you to make unfair judgments.

Implement a systematic policy and procedure for complaints

Apart from implementing office rules and regulations, companies need to execute stringent policies and procedures for harassment, discrimination, unethical practices, and the like. There should be an effective system for filing complaints to gather the necessary details and assess possible disciplinary actions.

Warnings and suspensions are always mandatory, although there’s nothing wrong with taking a more proactive approach.Seminars could educate employees and make them conscious of their responsibility to avoid grave violations at the outset.

If the situation escalates violently, take administrative action

This is the last measure that any employer would need to implement. If the violation is at the gravest level or repeated all over, then administrative levels of escalation need to be taken, which will mean company dismissal for the offender.

While this step may leave a stain on workplace quality, it can also benefit the company when an employee’s concern over a hostile environment was heard thoroughly and handled immediately. Employers have to protect their employees—it’s as simple as that.

Support causes against discrimination and harassment

Speaking of protecting employees, companies should support campaigns and programs against workplace discrimination. They can also cooperate with labor agencies, NGOs, and employee unions to implement certified ISO standards for safer environments and promote a culture of equality and diversity within the workplace.

The goal is not to boost your company’s PR image but to guarantee that all employees, especially those from susceptible groups (females, racial minorities, and LGBTQ+ individuals), are respected and heard for their concerns. 

Final Words

A company’s workspace should be flowing with creativity and integrity, not negativity. It takes open communication, proper work ethics, and everyone’s cooperation to maintain a healthy work environment employees deserve.