Violence and Harassment in the Workplace

It’s not just an occurrence in schools; the issue of violence and harassment continues to be a problem throughout the workplace as well. 2011 studies reveal that as much as 40% of Canadians have experienced some sort of harassment or bullying in their work environment (CBC News http://bit.ly/13VcFXl). While there are many forms of harassment be it general discrimination, intimidation, threats, or withholding information, it’s important to acknowledge the damaging effects it can have on your employees as well as your working environment.

Nobody wants to become a victim of bullying; being that we spend a considerable amount of time working, a person’s professional life should be a comfortable and enjoyable one. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Far too often we hear of individuals taking a leave of absence or worse, leaving the workplace entirely, all due to feelings of fear, anxiety or depression caused by bullying. This type of behaviour is not only emotionally harmful, but it’s often associated with illness. Harassment includes any unwanted gestures, comments or insults that cause intimidation or humiliation. When someone is treated with such disrespect, their self-confidence diminishes impacting their overall work productivity.

Sadly, the results of harassment directly contribute to a poor working environment for all. Often teamwork plays a major role in day to day duties; when there is tension and conflict among members of the team, it lowers staff morale making cooperation extremely difficult. Relationships between staff and supervisors can suffer, poisoning a company’s culture, and ultimately affecting the success
of your business. Depending on the degree of harassment, legal action may be
pursued by parties involved potentially hurting your company in more ways than
one. Financially, there may be costs involved due to government fines, or
bullying related injuries, and furthermore it can damage company’s reputation. Bad publicity generated by such conflict can make future recruitment a challenging task. The encouraging news is that all of this is completely preventable if correct harassment policies and procedures are in place.

Workplace bullying causes problems for everyone. It’s unpleasant and disruptive, but more importantly poses legal threats to those involved. As an employer, it is your responsibility to provide a safe and healthy working environment for your employees. Understanding what constitutes as harassment and how to address the matter is a positive step towards change. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity at work. Together, we can make a difference in preventing discrimination in the workplace.