Most of us believe in, and want to work in, a respectful environment that is free of discrimination, bias and bullying or harassment of any kind. Yet, there are other types of people in the workplace, too - those who either are clueless about, or purposefully choose, disrespectful and harassing behaviors. Here are the most current, effective techniques for preventing workplace bullying and harassment.
When it comes to harassment in the workplace, there are 8 protected classes, according to federal law: age, race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, and genetic information (including family history). Offensive comments or behaviors toward someone based on one of those protected classes may be harassment. The most common type of harassment, hostile work environment harassment, is a pattern of behaviors that are so pervasive and offensive that a person (the target) has trouble doing their job. It doesn’t even matter if the harasser intends to offend; it’s the impact that matters, not the intent.
To stop organizational harassment, utilize a harassment in the workplace training video like How Was Your Day? to teach employees to avoid actions or statements that offend others or make them uncomfortable. A key technique to prevent workplace harassment is to apply the “guest filter.” When you’re a guest in someone else’s home, you instinctively filter what you say and do. Employees should apply the same filter at work: don’t tell off-color jokes, don’t forward “funny” emails that others might find offensive, don’t show unwanted sexual attention, and avoid cursing or using sacred names thoughtlessly. You can’t go wrong if you keep your words and actions respectful and inclusive.
Workplace bullying is another issue that can only be dealt with if it’s brought out of the shadows and seen for what it is - abusive behavior. Men are the most common bullies and favor using aggression, intimidation, criticism and humiliation techniques on their targets. When women bully, their methods tend to be more subtle: undermining, rumors and criticism. No matter the method, though, a bullying environment at work stresses all employees - not just the target.
When you observe workplace bullying or find yourself the target of it, it’s not always easy to know what to do, and when to do it. Speaking up is hard, but is critical to stopping the bully in his or her tracks. It’s important to realize that bullies act on insecurity and the need for power and control. The longer the target and the witnesses allow the bully’s aggression to continue unchecked, the more power the bully gains.
If you’re bullied, say something. Stay calm and keep your language clear and direct. Ask the person to stop. Also, document the instances of bullying so you can report it to HR, if necessary.
Harassment prevention training videos and workplace bullying training videos are great tools for teaching your staff these important techniques. The How Was Your Day? video from Media Partners covers both of these topics - plus unconscious bias, and inclusion and diversity in the workplace. It outlines ways employees can be their best selves at work by staying respectful at all times and speaking up when they see others who aren’t.