Workplace harassment is a pertinent issue that we all need to tackle from within. Employee awareness is one of the many things that prevents such occurrences.

We all assume that the workplace is a space within which we share our ideas, and work towards achieving common goals. When we step into work, we’re meant to assume that it is a safe space where like-minded individuals combine their efforts and foster the spirit of teamwork. However, sometimes, the experience within the workplace can be less than favorable. When an individual faces negative circumstances within the workplace, it can either arise from their own feelings or beliefs (we spoke about burnout a little earlier), or from external sources.

When negative experiences stem from external sources at work, it os observed that these are often related to cases of harassment within the workplace. There are several ways in which one can be antagonized at work by people who just simply don’t understand the boundaries of acceptable behavior. There are so many varied types of workplace harassment that people can face, that the most vigilant HR professional could miss out on picking up the signs. Through this post, we’re going to tell you about some of the possible types of harassment that may be observed within your workplace. Whether you’re facing this, or observing that someone else is, the important thing to note is that one mustn’t keep mum about it!

Without further ado, here’s a little overview of some of the main types of workplace harassment:

Discriminatory Harassment

Singling out someone based on individual difference is simply wrong in the workplace. We’re all different people, so why pick on someone based on their race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation? We sometimes hear that people are being harassed merely due to their faith, or due to the team they play for in the romance department. The question we must ask here is; do these things really matter at work? Or, is the competency that an individual displays at their job the most imperative? To those that have their head on their shoulders, the second statement will probably yield an affirmative answer!

Personal Harassment

We often hear of bullies in high school environments. They project their own insecurities on other people through acts of violence or annoyance. In the workplace, personal harassment is basically bullying in a more ‘professional’ (or rather, ‘unprofessional’) form. Personal harassment involves intimidating behavior, rude remarks and humiliation, inappropriate comments and even rude jokes made at the expense of another person. Personal harassment is usually not based on creed, religion or gender, but it can be as hurtful, especially if someone is conscious about their own image at the workplace.

Sexual Harassment

Unwanted verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature within the workplace is a strict violation of professional code. However, often, we see that sexual harassment is kept under wraps due to the shame that victims feel as a result of it. Often, individuals are not aware of the actions they can take to combat such harassment. Lewd remarks, physical advances, even attempts at non-consensual sexual acts can really butcher an individual’s self-esteem, and leave them feeling helpless. A ‘this for that’ form of sexual harassment wherein benefits are offered in exchange for sexual consent can really leave someone questioning whether taking up a job to improve their prospects was the right decision. In some cases, implicit advances like asking someone whether they ‘really want this promotion’ can be a case for alarm, and one must definitely not keep mum about it!

The #metoo hashtag on social media is a simple example of how individuals can come forward to address these phenomena, but supportive actions by others within the workplace to show that they stand against such behavior is also absolutely necessary to combat such issues.

Power Harassment

Hierarchy is something that has been established within the mainframe of the corporate world to ensure that everyone knows the role they play within the grand scheme of things. It is not a tool to allow some people within the higher rungs to exercise their power however they feel! When individuals in power exercise unfair control over those working under them, it could be an example of power harassment. Asking your intern to bring you coffee, or pick up your takeout is simply not acceptable conduct. An intern is meant to help you with your work, not bring you your doggy bags! Unrealistic demands in terms of productivity are also an example of power harassment, especially when hostility is the result of these demands not being met. One must know that everyone has a threshold, and a level of competency before simply ‘handing out’ out work to them. It is definitely not someone’s ‘job’ or ‘duty’ to do work that they are not hired to do.

Now that you have an overview of some of the types of harassment that can be seen within the workplace, it’s important to also know how to combat these. A little briefing on the code of conduct to be followed within the workplace is of utmost importance. When everyone enters the workplace having an idea of what boundaries to keep their behavior within, it makes things a little simpler. One must also make their employees aware of the possible kinds of violations that can be observed within the workplace of this code. This enables them to be more vigilant, and report these violations to the Human Resources department immediately. A system that allows employees to anonymously report complaints or incidents is also something that could help victims of harassment to feel a little less conscious about narrating their experiences.

Little steps like these could go a big way towards making the workplace a conducive, collaborative environment where any misconduct is death with fairly. At Type a Thought, we’re working towards enlightening corporate ventures about the markers of such events within the workplace, in order to empower those working within these spaces to address their own grievances, and shed light on the struggles of others. ¬†We hope to achieve our vision of a transparent and objective workspace through our approach!

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An undergraduate in Psychology, Shantanu is an aspiring Educational Psychologist who will be pursuing his Master’s in 2018 at the Ohio State University. He is adept with psychometric and statistical research, and has honed his grasp over psychology through a 4 year undergraduate course in Liberal Education at FLAME University, Pune.