A happy workplace is always something that an employer should strive for. It’s great when all of your employees are getting along and working to a high standard. Getting along well with co-workers can often encourage staff to do well and make the workplace a better place.
However, some employees have the tendency to partake in behaviour that makes other employees uncomfortable and can be deemed unprofessional to say the least.
In light of the many recent allegations, we decided to take a look at what kind of behaviour is acceptable in the workplace.
Sexual harassment has been all over the news in recent times due to all of the allegations against multiple individuals across all industries. Each day we are seeing more and more people coming forward with shocking revelations.
But what exactly is deemed “sexual harassment”?
Under The Equality Act of 2010, sexual harassment is described as “unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose of effect of violating someone’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them”.
Some people may not realise that they are making someone else feel uncomfortable, so it’s very important to know what kind of behaviour can be called as sexual harassment.
Here are some examples. Inappropriate jokes or comments, especially about how someone looks are not acceptable. Neither is the unwanted touching of another employee, whether that be a massage or a “playful” touch. Groping somebody else is never acceptable in the workplace.
If someone is subject to this kind of behaviour, they can often become very uncomfortable whilst at work and this might push them to leave. Employees shouldn’t have to “be prepared” because of how a certain employee acts. Not only does this have an effect on the work that the employee produces, but can often have an impact on their personal life.
Any instances of harassment must be dealt with straight away and the correct actions should be taken.
It’s very important to make sure that all of your employees know how to correctly treat other members of staff and there are policies in place that prevent this kind of offensive behaviour.
Verbal Abuse And Workplace Bullying
You may have thought that bullying stops at the playground, but this kind of behaviour can sometimes carry on into adult life and into the workplace.
Workplace bullying can be defined in many ways, but the main examples include treating other members of staff poorly, spreading rumours, insulting people and can even go as far as sabotaging an employee’s training or promotion opportunities.
This kind of behaviour doesn’t just happen face to face either. This can go as far as sending malicious emails or writing hurtful comments on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
These offences can be committed by any kind of employee, from trainee to managing director. If another or multiple members of staff are treating an employee poorly, this will discourage them and make them uncomfortable at work. This will then lead to a drop in quality in work and could lead to the employee leaving and/or filing complaints.
Employers need to make sure the environment that their employees are working in isn’t a toxic one and any incidents of bullying be dealt with the correct disciplinaries. No one should have to feel scared about coming to work.
Aggressive Or Violent Behaviour
If an employee has an aggressive or violent nature, this should be dealt with straight away.
It’s not uncommon to be stressed at work from time to time. With the likes of deadlines and cut off points, it can leave employees with a lot on their plates. This is no excuse for aggressive behaviour however. Punching or kicking walls, shouting at other members of staff or damage to company property is not acceptable and should not be condoned.
If you notice that an employee is showing signs of stress, pull them aside and talk to them. Similarly to sexual harassment, people should not have to “get used” how certain employees carry themselves and any issues need to be addressed straight away.
Having someone behave in this manner not only threatens the safety of your staff, but also can leave you open to lawsuits.
Making A Change
Your company should operate an “open door” policy, allowing employees to come and speak to you about issues they may have.
Some employees will often feel too scared to come forward if there is an issue such as verbal abuse or inappropriate touching, so you need to do everything you can to encourage a safe and open working environment. Having someone to talk to about it that will take action will go a long way in stopping harassment in the workplace.
As an employer, it is your responsibility to look after your staff and make sure they are not being subject to inappropriate behaviour. You need to be doing all you can to prevent any kind of harassment in the workplace and your employees should be aware of this.
Letting these incidents slide will only create a hostile and intimidating environment for everyone and this should be avoided at all costs. All reports of violating behaviour should be taken seriously and the individuals responsible dealt with accordingly. No matter what your relationship is like with said person, they need to answer to their actions.
Failure to correctly addressing any reports of offensive behaviour can end up leaving your business open for lawsuits and a bad reputation. There is no positive to trying to brush off any complaints.
Where We Come In
As you can see, it’s crucial that you have the correct policies and procedures in place in the event that something like this happens. This kind of behaviour can be a HR nightmare without the right actions taken and you need to be prepared.
This is where Wurkplace can help. We have a dedicated team of HR professionals that are ready to help and can offer support on a daily basis.
Our team can help with reviewing and improving existing employees handbooks, implementation of a compliant HR system and can handle any employment law issues such as disciplinaries, sickness absence and even holidays.
If you have experienced this kind of behaviour in the workplace before, click here to get in touch.
With over 20 years HR generalist experience across all disciplines, Sarah has worked across a number of business sectors and understands the importance of robust and practical HR processes and trained, motivated and engaged people in delivering business success.
As Wurkplace’s Head of HR, she is passionate about both providing the best HR service to our Clients as well as recruiting, developing and retaining the best team.