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5 Ways to Prevent a Hostile Work Environment

Whether you’re a business owner, manager, or employee in a company, it’s important to know what hostile work environments are and how to prevent yours from being one. Avoiding hostile workplace harassment means not only protecting your employees, but also protecting yourself and your company from any implications that arise from this kind of harassment.

  1. Create an Appropriate Office Policy Surrounding Harassment, and Emphasize it to All New Employees
    The easiest thing you can do to prevent hostile workplace harassment is to have a “no tolerance” policy that your coworkers respect, understand, and know will be enforced. There’s nothing worse than a policy that’s treated like a joke around the office. If you want your fellow employees to be comfortable in the office space, then make it one. Make it known that you want a comfortable office space where everyone is accepted, and you’re likely to draw people to your company who respect the policy and want to adhere to it. You’re also likely to stamp out any behaviors people might take on otherwise.
  2. Train and Retrain Your Employees About Hostile Workplace Harassment
    In order for your employee to know how to avoid harassing others, you have to train them on what hostile workplace harassment is. There are federal laws that require you to train your employees, but make sure this training is taken seriously. Don’t make or allow jokes about how “pointless” this training is.
  3. Get to Know your Employees and Be Their Advocate
    The best bosses are those who are there for their employees. As a supervisor, you could be implicated in a hostile workplace harassment lawsuit if you know about harassment that occurred but you do nothing about it. You should do something about it when harassment occurs, but you also have to allow your employees access to talking about it with you. People will only feel comfortable reporting harassment when they feel comfortable with you.
  4. Make Sure All Employees Know and Understand the Process for Filing Hostile Work Environment Complaints
    Make sure your employees know how to report harassment so that any cases that do pop up can be nipped in the bud as quickly as possible. When you train your employees on workplace harassment, make sure there is a streamlined process for reporting occurrences safely. This also warns harassers what will happen to them if they do start to display discriminatory or harassing behaviors.
  5. Don’t Be a Contributor to Hostile Workplace Harassment
    The best thing you can do to prevent harassment as a supervisor or coworker is to simply not contribute to it. Don’t discriminate against people, harass people, or make inappropriate jokes, but also don’t laugh when other people display harassing behaviors. Laughing at hurtful jokes is a contributing factor to hostile work environments. It also encourages the behaviors and makes people think the behavior is acceptable when it’s not.
Last Updated: April 15, 2015