Whether you’re working for a small or big company, harassment at the workplace can happen to anyone. Several types of harassment occur at work and different interpretations that even top-performing HR professionals can’t see the signs.
With a more defined understanding of how workplace harassment occurs, you can help a colleague dealing with these experiences ask for help or file a complaint. At the end of this article, you will be able to determine different types of workplace harassment, how they happen, and how to deal with them.
All kinds of harassment are naturally discriminatory. But unlike physical and verbal harassment, discriminatory harassment is translated by its harmful intentions instead of how it’s portrayed. In this case, the harasser is bullying the victim due to particular reasons, such as:
Physical harassment, also known as physical violence, involves physical threats or attacks on an individual. In worst cases, physical harassment may be considered assault and lead to legal consequences.
Even though they may seem playful, physical actions cause misinterpretations and draw the line between what’s appropriate and not. At the end of it all, the person feeling threatened is the one who will decide if the action towards them causes them discomfort.
Workplaces take physical harassment very seriously, creating detailed definitions and explaining it thoroughly in company policies.
Personal harassment is a kind of bullying without any basis. It’s just plain harassment because it’s like the harasser. It may not be illegal, but it can significantly damage a person.
Here are some examples of personal harassment:
- Offensive jokes
- Intimidating tactics
- Critical remarks
- Inappropriate comments
- Personal humiliation
It can be any behavior that makes the victim feel offended and intimidated at work.
People in higher positions typically perform power harassment. They use this advantage to bully employees and intimidate them in the office. Sadly, managers and supervisors usually execute this unacceptable behavior.
As mentioned, workplace harassment can take place anywhere. You can be working at a prestigious law firm, a small cafeteria, in a barbershop, or a corporate office, and it can still happen to you. However, you can always reach out to HR and voice your concerns and what causes your discomfort at work. It’s all about how the company handles the situation.
Take this Hubzone-certified IT firm as an example. The company aims to provide exceptional services to its clients and improve the lives of its employees. Overall, a company that values the importance of good work-life quality will be more like to manage harassment issues in the office accordingly.
Transforming into the digital world is the key to a business’s success. That’s why many employees integrate technology into their processes. For example, companies use applications like Slack to provide a convenient messaging experience within the workplace. Unfortunately, this comes with a few disadvantages.
Online harassment can also happen between employees. Here’s how:
- Sending humiliating details about the victim through mass chat or email
- Spreading lies and rumors in the workplace through social media
- Sending harassing messages to the victim
Psychological harassment is probably one of the worst kinds of harassment as it directly impacts an individual’s mental health, affecting their overall well-being. The victims of this behavior typically feel belittled professionally or personally.
Sadly, the damage to a person’s psychological health often experiences adverse effects that hurt their work, social life, and physical health. Psychological harassment may include:
- Spreading rumors about a person
- Belittling the victim’s opinions
- Opposing everything the victim says
- Ignoring the victim’s presence
How to Deal with Work Harassment
Now that we’ve discussed the different kinds of workplace harassment, it’s time to identify how to put a stop to them.
Revive Company Policy
Revive every company policy to align with the latest kinds of workplace harassment. If you haven’t updated your codes of conduct for too long, now is the time to do so.
Upon onboarding, explain the policies to new employees, and make sure that they understand the importance of mutual respect at the workplace.
Update Complaint System
Most victims of harassment feel embarrassed to speak out, especially if they feel as if no one’s around to support them. Updating the complaint system in the office is a great way to encourage them to hold the harasser accountable.
Companies should be vocal in implementing these policies and rules to protect their employees. As mentioned, most victims are afraid of backlash, and the lack of support may also not help. The organization must ensure that employees have a safe online and workplace environment.