How to prevent a hostile workplace

Workplaces are constantly changing. In recent years, increased remote work and use of technology have led to increased digital harassment. Employers and supervisors need to be more vigilant than ever to eradicate all types of harassment from their workplace. 

Here are three ways you can actively discourage a hostile work environment and help your employees feel safe and thus be happier at work and more productive:

1. Update your policies.

Address workplace harassment and discrimination in your electronic communication and social media policies. Be sure to enforce these policies diligently. Just because your employees are engaging in this type of conduct online or through virtual media, like texts or messaging, doesn’t mean it’s not taking place in the “workplace”.  

In addition, digital communication may be more informal and usually provides a peek into the private lives of employees.  

For example, seeing religious objects and family members due to work-from-home arrangements may lead to harassment based on protected characteristics that may not have been known otherwise. 

2. Set the right example.

Provide your managers and supervisors with the tools they need through training to not only behave appropriately and set an example but also to recognize inappropriate conduct and know what to do about it. In fact, ALL staff members should be trained in how to prevent workplace harassment and discrimination, including online behavior that impacts the workplace. Set a good example from the top down.

3. Use a robust complaint and investigation process.

Whether online or offline, whenever an employee complains about harassment or discrimination, be sure to take all aspects of the issue into consideration and have a good retention policy for workplace emails, text messages and other messaging platforms.

No matter how minor the conduct may appear, bullying and harassment at work are never acceptable. Take employees’ concerns about such conduct seriously, and take all reasonable steps to stop any inappropriate behavior.  Not only is this the right thing to do, but your business will benefit, too. Your employees will be happier and thus more productive, and you’ll likely avoid hostile work environment lawsuits.

If you have employment law questions or believe your employment rights have been violated, give us a call at 973.787.8442 or schedule a Strategy Session, before it’s too late.

Please keep in mind that this is general information, not legal advice. And the law may change at any time. 

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