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3 Ways to Prevent a Hostile Work Environment

2 min read

As a Human Resources manager, you want to make sure that employees feel safe and comfortable in the work environment that you create for them. Unfortunately, a hostile work environment can arise when employees are subject to negative and unwelcome behavior.

To prevent the workplace from becoming hostile, the HR department must be able to recognize the types of behavior that can lead to a negative work environment and intervene before the problem escalates. In this blogpost, we will be giving you 3 tips to prevent a hostile work environment. But first, let’s take a look at what qualifies as hostile behavior.

Types of Hostile Behavior

A hostile work environment is created when employees feel scared, intimidated and offended by unwanted remarks and behavior from co-workers, managers, or clients. The harassment is usually based on the following characteristics:

  • Gender
  • Race
  • Age
  • Nationality
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation
  • Disability

Discrimination, (sexual) harassment, violence and victimization are the most common forms of hostile behavior. The actions can range from making inappropriate jokes and mockery to threats and physical assault. The work environment becomes hostile when these behaviors are intentional and happen on a constant basis.

This unwelcome conduct can have a profound impact on the targeted employee. It does not only diminish the productivity and self-esteem, but it can also cause physical and psychological health problems. Additionally, the hostile behavior often times does not limit itself to the victim. The surrounding environment can also be affected. As a result, the performance will deteriorate and the negativity in the workplace will cause an increased amount of absences and sick days.

The following measures can be implemented to prevent your work environment from becoming hostile.

3 Ways to Avoid a Hostile Work Environment

Implement a Zero-Tolerance Policy

An incident such as a joke or mockery might be harmless to some, but can be offensive to others. A way to prevent this type of inappropriate behavior, is by implementing a zero-tolerance policy. In this policy, the company must clearly define what constitutes as harassment and the consequences that are connected to this kind of behavior. To avoid confusion, the policy must be communicated directly to all employees within the company. This can be achieved by having a team meeting, creating an employee handbook or providing the employees with updated guidelines for the workplace.

Train Your Employees

Another way to avoid a hostile work environment is by training and educating employees on a regular basis. By providing an annual harassment training, employees will get a better understanding of what harassment is and which steps they need to take when they want to report an incident. It is important to note that managers should receive a more specific training on this subject. The harassment trainings for management levels should focus on identifying hostile behavior and handling incidents that get reported to them.

Take Action

When it comes to harassment, the company needs to take a firm stance to prevent this type of behavior in the workplace. That is why, every reported incident must be taken seriously. Human Resources should start an investigation promptly, to ensure that the problem gets resolved before it escalates. Additionally, each incident should be treated on a case-by-case basis. The policy that is put into place can refer as a guide to find a fitting solution. 

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