The Five Most Toxic Workplace Situations, Ranked (Part Two)
Last week we posted the fifth through third most toxic workplace situations as ranked by Linnda Durré, Ph.D., a psychotherapist, corporate and business consultant, international speaker, columnist and author of Surviving the Toxic Workplace: Protect Yourself Against the Co-workers, Bosses, and Work Environments That Poison Your Day (McGraw Hill 2010). myHR Partner was fortunate to catch up recently with Dr. Durré and interview her for on this topic based on what she has run into in her illustrious career.
The toxic workplace situations from last week were (#5) disorganization, (#4) weak leadership and (#3) blatant favoritism. In this post we cover the final top two.
2. Sexual Harassment
“This is probably the most common toxic workplace issue today,” says Dr. Durré. “Female, male, LBGT—there are many forms of sexual harassment out there. And the harassment can come from owners, bosses, supervisors, executives, employees, co-workers, vendors, consultants, and even clients. As an employer, if you are not working towards stopping or preventing sexual harassment in your organization, you run the risk of being seen as part of the problem, and risk being included in a law suit.”
“Beyond the legal implications of letting sexual harassment occur in your organization–knowingly or unknowingly–it’s a terrible scar on your company’s reputation that will make it harder to retain talent or positively boost your brand. Who would want to work around that kind of behavior?” asks Dr. Durré. “Who would do business with an organization that allows that sort of potentially illegal behavior to run rampant in the workplace?”
MyHR Partner’s words of wisdom regarding sexual harassment in the workplace
As we reported to you just last summer, even Yahoo! isn’t immune from sexual harassment scandals. Companies of all sizes should make sure that they are prepared to deal with such issues, should they come up. “Documentation is imperative when dealing with any type of harassment claims,” says Tina Hamilton, PHR, president of myHR Partner. So make sure you have a record of what you were presented with and what steps you took. For companies that are not currently making HR documentation a priority, let’s hope that the crisis over at Yahoo! opens their eyes to the risks they face.
Beyond record keeping, companies can benefit immensely from quality training for managers on such topics as harassment, performance reviews, conflict resolution and employee communications, says Hamilton. Giving managers the tools with which to handle disgruntled employees only makes sense for the entire company.
(myHR Partner has a wide range of training offerings that will help you educate your managers so that they can play a pivotal role in protecting your organization’s brand. Beyond good for business, some states, like California, require annual or periodic harassment training as well. Click here to learn more.)
1. Hostile Team Members
With incidents of workplace violence making headlines all too often and some reports indicating that over 25 percent of workers claim they have been subjected to abusive conduct at work, it is important for employers to be aware of the type of working environment managers and co-workers create. “These may be bosses or co-workers who create a hostile work environment for some or all of your team. Their anger issues and bullying may even become an EEOC issue for your company if left unchecked. And their difficult, stubborn, controlling, insulting, intimidating or mean, vicious, bullying tactics can result in poor overall employee performance, talent flight, violent episodes, a bad reputation for your company, costly lawsuits, and workplace violence,” says Dr. Durré.
“Yes, hostile personalities can be difficult to confront, and when management turns a blind eye to or tries to justify such behavior in this day and age, it does so at its own peril,” she adds. “It’s always a sound plan to promote a company culture that is anti-bullying, that makes employees feel safe, and protects their rights.”
“Find out why the negative behavior is occurring. What is going on at home? Is the employee dealing with a spouse dying of cancer or a teenager on drugs or do they need medical and/or psychological intervention? It is important to be understanding and compassionate, to offer assistance and suggestions to remedy the situation, and to set standards and expectations for everyone,” says Dr. Durré.
MyHR Partner’s tips for promoting a company culture where hostile workplace environments and bullying won’t take root or flourish:
- Make sure your managers are well trained. Educate them so they can play a pivotal role in defending against hostile behaviors. Train your managers on how to detect, circumvent, and deal with intimidating, threatening and violent behaviors swiftly and directly.
- Lead with empathy and compassion. Many people who feel bullied are not comfortable telling management about the hostility they endure, and not all acts of bullying are conspicuous. Showing you care about all your employees encourages them to come forward when problems arise outside of the manager’s field of view.
- Look for clues as to why employees are acting the way they do. In real life, real people have many facets to their lives, both professionally and personally. Often what you see as a manager or employer is only part of the larger picture, only a particular action or effect. If you can find out what is behind the bad or fearful behavior, many times you can take effective steps to remedy a situation. Look beyond just a singular incident.
Whether it’s training, a clear policy or other workplace hostility and sexual harassment deterrents, we’ve got you covered.
Today’s employers have to be proactive to avoid workplace violence, harassment law violations and employee dissatisfaction. It takes a strategic, broad approach to maintain a positive, productive and profitable workforce. Our team of HR experts is here to help you achieve your workforce goals. Email us, or call us at 610-443-0119 to discuss how myHR Partner training and myHR DirectLink Services can help your business.
ABOUT LINNDA DURRÉ, PH.D.: She is a psychotherapist, corporate and business consultant, international speaker, expert witness and columnist, who also hosted and produced the radio show, The Linnda Durré Show” on WEUS 810AM in Orlando, Florida. She has hosted and co-produced, The Dr. Linnda Durré Show that aired WDBO, a Cox radio station in Orlando, a call-in advice radio show. She hosted and co-produced two live, call-in advice TV shows, including Ask the Family Therapist on the Mayo Clinic-affiliated America’s Health Network and Personal Success with Dr. Linnda Durré on a PBS affiliate. She has been interviewed on Oprah, 60 Minutes, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Canada AM and The O’Reilly Factor, among others.
She has been featured in publications including The New York Times, Forbes, CNN, Knowledge@nullWharton.com, Business Week, Entrepreneur Magazine, Job Week, Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Parade, Investors Business Daily and San Francisco Chronicle & Examiner, among others. She has written columns for Forbes Online, American Cities Business Journals, Management Issues and The Orlando Business Journal. Her regularly featured blog on eBossWatch can be found here.
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