Addressing harassment in the workplace can create friction as management often feels it should not have to scold employees for their personal behavior. Every time a manager has to waste time dealing with a conflict, he, or she, is distracted from professional concerns. This creates resentment against employees. Acting against an employee also angers accused individuals while doing nothing to very little angers the victims of harassment. On the other hand, the damages associated with harassment, as well as the potential lawsuits for failing to act, mean management needs to act on claims of harassment made by employees.
Workplace harassment takes on many forms from simple harassment to sexual harassment and can come from any employee, including the boss. Managers and supervisors, who constantly intimidate, belittle, and push employees to their breaking point are guilty of harassment. For weak workers, this behavior makes them less productive and/or diminishes their ability to function at their full capacity. For stronger employees, harassment can result in resentment and spiteful behavior like weakened performance, sabotage, disruptive confrontations, and efforts to undermine leadership. As such, subordinates must have a more direct line to file complaints with other managers and human resources officials.
Meanwhile, the workplace is filled with different personalities that can conflict in a number of ways. It seems one common element in the work environment, which all employees share, is the tendencies of individuals to behave more childlike in the face of controversy or stress. Part of this dynamic often results from an expectation that our views should automatically be accepted by others. When we do not get our way, a situation can easily lead to serious issues like harassment. This dictates management must be keenly aware of conflicts that escalate to such an inappropriate level. Of course, this also implies a need for greater efforts to resolve workplace conflicts before they escalate.
Furthermore, coworkers, who harass others, disrupt the work environment. For those being harassed, work is more difficult while it can create greater division among the various subcultures found within the workplace. The lone wolf, who bullies others, can use harassment to upset the entire workplace, yet many bullies force themselves into a leadership role. Singling out individuals to pick on creates even greater instability and a lack of safety. In addition, it weakens the credibility of supervisors by demonstrating they have no control over the workplace. Consequently, business leadership must move to squash this type of behavior by immediately disciplining employees. For habitual cases, termination needs to be considered.
In more serious scenarios like sexual harassment, personal relationships in the office can often lead to threatening situations. For those who flirt in the workplace despite the wishes of the employer, charges of sexual harassment may follow. Because sexual harassment can easily result from an obsessed coworker failing to respect boundaries, such cases must be taken very seriously as the consequences can lead to stalking or assault. As such, aggressive flirts, who go too far, should be explicitly told to stop by the recipient of the unwanted attention then reported if a perceived danger exists. Once reported, the employer must immediately take action that includes reviewing whether or not the employee should be reassigned to another position or terminated.
Of course, it is also important to remember situations exist where one person finds another individual attractive, yet those feelings are not reciprocated. Because these scenarios are often unclear, one person’s natural inclination toward kindness or friendly flirting can lead a serious suitor to the wrong conclusion. Certainly, most people are aware of these misunderstanding, thereby making these situations even more awkward. Since acting on a misunderstanding can easily lead one employee to the wrong conclusion and actions, employers must fully investigate harassment charges in order to determine whether or not they are valid.
In addition, the social nature of the workplace also creates issues when it comes to reporting harassment. Clearly, reporting a coworker over harassment is the most obvious course of action; however, this path is not so easily followed. If charges are invalid, a coworker will face unjust scrutiny and, possibly, loss of income, while false charges of harassment can be very damaging to a person’s reputation and create resentment that undermines the workplace. If harassment charges are valid, a coworker might lose his or her job. Faced with either circumstance, this can create a lot of tension in the workplace, thus management needs to make it easier for employees to report harassment and pay closer attention to employee behavior so no one has to do so.
From constantly bothering coworkers to sexual harassment, the workplace is no place for this type of inappropriate behavior. Beyond the harm of harassment done to the individuals, it undermines the work community. Instead of doing their jobs, employees are focused on the drama created by workplace harassment. This generates friction between the different subcultures in the business as well as the individuals involved. The workplace requires employees to connect as a team by developing relationships, but this unhealthy behavior hurts these relationships. Managers, therefore, need to guarantee employees have all the opportunities they need to covertly report incidents while they must monitor the workplace and better address conflicts.