Identifying And Handling A Hostile Work Environment

Identifying And Handling A Hostile Work Environment


Keep yourself safe in the office. Learn how to deal with a hostile work environment.

Man yelling at female coworker
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A toxic workplace can turn your dream job into your worst nightmare. You may be earning a large salary or enjoying the tasks assigned to you, but being on the receiving end of a colleague’s aggression will take a massive toll on your overall well-being. Unfortunately, most employees tend to let discriminatory comments and sexual innuendos slide due to the fear of retaliation.

While most employers promise to promote an office culture of equality and diversity, it’s sad to know that only a select few have been successful. If an officemate is frequently targeting you for whatever reason, then it’s time to put your foot down. The guide below will discuss several signs that you’re in a hostile workplace and how you can deal with it.

Below we look at the some of the signs that you’re in a hostile work environment

Discrimination Is Present

Discrimination is one of the most common issues in a toxic workplace. Most people tend to think that it’s only limited to offensive slurs, but it actually takes up many different forms. If your supervisor is biased towards a certain gender, race, or group of individuals, this can already count as such.

Receiving fewer opportunities or being treated poorly just because you are part of a particular group is unfair. Whether these acts are directed to you or not, their occurrence in your workplace means that something isn’t right. In case you experience or witness any kind of discriminatory act, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your HR department.

Sexual Harassment Is Prevalent

Whether it’s a subtle remark by your boss, or excessive physical contact from a colleague, sexual harassment in any place should never be tolerated. Many victims have trouble reporting their cases due to the possible issues that may arise. Some feel that they’re just overreacting to a colleague’s behavior, while others simply fear losing their job.

Most harassers defend themselves by stating that they’re just being friendly. Regardless of what a person’s intentions may be, any sexual act that makes other people uncomfortable should be dealt with accordingly. For smaller cases, it’s best to communicate with your colleague first to avoid future incidents. But if matters get worse, consider seeking legal counsel.

Employees Are Generally Aggressive Towards Each Other

More often than not, friendly competition amongst team members is a good sign. Awarding the person with the most sales or best output will push everyone to work harder, and this can make a huge difference in company growth. However, it’s a different case when employees start to show aggression towards each other.

If your team leader shouts at you and the team about the smallest mistakes or if you witness employees shoving each other, this should immediately serve as a red flag.

From Passion To Profit

Both physical abuse and passive-aggressive acts are unacceptable and should be addressed by the company immediately. Taking the time to discuss with your colleagues will help everyone be aware of the issue and may even foster better working relationships.

Bullying And Gossiping Are Persistent

There’s no denying that good friends tend to joke around with each other. While a sarcastic comment from a colleague may be made for a good laugh, it’s a different case when it’s done with the intent to humiliate.

Bullying in the workplace is usually done verbally. If you see that employees are spreading rumors or they’re setting up social media groups to talk behind someone’s back, it’s a direct sign that your workplace is hostile. In case you are targeted by your officemates, get in touch with your superiors to know your organization’s anti-bullying policies.

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Poor Communication

Several issues in the workplace are usually caused by poor communication. Colleagues who cannot engage in productive dialogue will naturally have difficulty working together, which can eventually spark tension.

To avoid arguments, many employees choose to keep their silence, but this approach is still counterproductive. While this may prevent heated encounters from occurring, turning the cold shoulder won’t improve team performance.

Proactive communication is crucial, especially now that most employees work from home due to the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis. Fortunately, communication problems can be solved by building rapport with colleagues, but you may require the intervention of your supervisor if things take a turn for the worst.

Keep Yourself Safe

Nobody wants to be part of a hostile work environment. Being subjected to abuse isn’t easy for any person, and being targeted by an officemate can threaten your emotional well-being. While you may have colleagues and supervisors whom you can turn to, your safety in the office is your sole responsibility.

With this guide in hand, it should be much easier for you to deal with a hostile work environment. If you’re witnessing or experiencing any of the signs above and are worsening by the minute, acquiring legal services will help you manage your situation.

About The Author
Experienced Marketing Specialist at Shegerian & Associates with a demonstrated history of working in the law practice industry. Skilled in Business Process, Negotiation, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Management, and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). Strong marketing professional with a Strategic Marketing focused in Marketing from Panamerican Consulting Group and Universidad Rafael Landivar.
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