Doyou know most employees don’t even understand what a hostile work environment is? A hostile work environment is when your workplace has issues related to inequality, discrimination, harassment, violence, inappropriate behavior, and negative competition.
Most people sometimes think their jobs can be hazardous and demanding and consider it normal. Some even believe that harassment at work is common around the globe, so they can’t do anything.
Now, this notion isn’t true; people have come forward and reported abusive and pressurizing work cultures. A study by RAND depicts that around 20% of US workers have reported a hostile working environment.
More and more employees are becoming aware that their mental health is equally important as physical health. And this new wave of revolution can help workers worldwide to create a positive work culture.
But, the questions that remain unanswered are how a workplace becomes hostile and how to deal with such situations. Well, we have tried to answer these two questions. Let’s have a look at them.
Reasons That Lead to Hostile Work Environment
Various reasons lead to hostile work culture; let’s have a look at them:
Inequality in the workplace can be the most common dysfunctional factor that harms the entire work culture. Talking of the US, a study by McKinsey & Company found out that “women in the workplace are more prone to inequality. Especially, the women of color are the prominent target than White women at work.”
But that doesn’t mean men don’t face the same. They face it, too, and what we are talking about is why we have to face it. We all are humans, and happy co-existence should be our goal, not fighting based on caste, color, creed, or gender.
However, the reality is that inequality is there, prevails widely across the world, and causes a hostile work environment. But we can hope that someday we will see a world without inequality.
Poor communication is one of the many contributing factors to a hostile working environment. In many companies, the upper hierarchy frequently needs more effective and pleasurable communication with their staff. Consider a manager who is unwilling to share information with their workers.
Such situations alter the adequate flow of information and harm the work culture. The same may be said for workers who don’t interact with one another and vice versa. Due to this, it’s not uncommon for employees to take extreme measures that are neither good for them nor the company. As a result, the real face of the present hostile working environment emerges.
Absence of HR Department
The lack of a separate HR department for workers to freely discuss their issues at work can also lead to a hostile work environment. The HR department is critical in propelling the company forward. It assists a company in establishing a healthy working environment with high morale and contentment.
When a problem or dispute arises, the HR department ensures it is thoroughly investigated by objectively dealing with it and encouraging open discussion to find a solution. These steps are critical since employees will be more receptive to and communicative about their problems.
Regardless, in the absence of the HR department, the issues are not adequately discussed, which leads to grudges and misunderstandings.
Faulty Assessment & Appraisal Process
Employee assessment is a significant part of every company to understand and observe performance. But many companies have a faulty system for judging the productivity and performance of their employees. They have no pattern or assessment formula to give concrete and impartial results.
This faulty system leads to unfair appraisals, people getting increments and promotions based on how they behave with bosses and not on how effectively they work. This unsafe practice damages the company inside out in the long run. Employees flattering the managers usually get early appraisals which demotivate other workers.
As a result, even the dedicated ones stop putting effort into work and start flattering, promoting hostile work culture.
How To Survive in A Hostile Work Environment?
If you want, you can survive a hostile culture at the workplace by following these steps:
1. Focus on Positive People
Yes, that’s true. Every hostile place has something positive, and you must find it yourself. You can search for colleagues who feel the way you feel at work. And to do that, you will need to observe who is on the same page as you. If you find someone feeling the same, try to communicate with them and talk them out. Once you confirm that you are in the same boat, you’ll have someone to talk to relieve the stress.
2. Avoid Indulging in Bad Practices
Another thing to do in a hostile work environment to survive is to keep yourself indulged in your work. Try not to be a part of gossiping or ragging, or don’t try backbiting, as it may lead you to bigger problems. It doesn’t mean you can’t talk to anyone. It’s just that you set a boundary for yourself so that others feel safe around you.
3. Reach Out
Whenever you feel stuck in a situation of hostility, don’t sit back; reach out to the HR department. Every company has a dedicated HR department for solving employee grievances. If you keep on tolerating it, the same can happen repeatedly.
Furthermore, each state in the U.S. has a help center where you can report any misconduct at work. These centers have psychologists who can help you deal with the situation and let go of it. So, always consider it your duty to report hostile behavior at work to make it a better place.
4. Document Hostile Actions
Another way to deal with a hostile work environment is to document everything that happens and keep your cool. It’s important not to retaliate, even if the other person does something first. This will help you build up evidence of what happened and make it easier for your company or supervisor to take action against them legally. If this isn’t possible due to professional reasons, consider finding another job as soon as possible!
If you end up in a hostile work environment, try these tips to improve your mood and mental health. Remember that many other workers feel the same. So, taking care of yourself and the others around you is essential. Also, never lose hope and stop raising your voice against the wrong.
What is bullying at work?
Bullying at the workplace means regular ill-treatment by others at work, either physically or mentally. This can include verbal & non-verbal abuse, emotional taunts, body shaming, and humiliation.
How to report a hostile work environment?
You must report a hostile environment to your employer in writing or verbally. Call Civil Rights Center at 202-693-6500 or TTY 7-1-1 to register your complaint if the organization takes no action.
Can I resign from a company with hostile work culture?
Yes, you can resign from a company that has a hostile environment. Write your resignation to your employer, and it’s not compulsory to mention any reason for leaving. It’s a matter of your mental health, and you’ve every right to quit being in a bad workplace.
Can you sue your organization for a hostile work environment?
Yes, you can sue your employer for the mental damage caused due to discrimination, abuse, harassment, or bullying. You can document the incidents that can become proof of misconduct at work.
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