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What is a hostile work environment?
A hostile work environment makes employees feel intimidated and includes repeated instances of unwelcome conduct. Discriminatory actions and harassment, be it mental, physical, or sexual, are two primary characteristics of a hostile work environment.
Harassment, partiality, victimization, violence, and other inappropriate behaviours are all categorized under unwelcome conduct and lead to a hostile work environment.Toxic work culture is a culture where unethical behaviour, bitter peer relationships, and bullying are commonplace, while a hostile work environment is characterized by discriminatory behaviour. While both are unpleasant work environments, a toxic work culture does not necessarily lead to discrimination and harassment.
Workplace harassment is when a colleague or a senior indulges in discriminatory behaviour, threatening, and belittling other employees. While a hostile work environment involves constant discrimination and partial treatment of employees, it might be a result of several things aside from harassment at the workplace.
What can you do to tackle a hostile work environment?
1. Communication and confrontation
Confrontation is the best way to set a hostile work environment right. If despite confrontation, the perpetrator is unwilling to mend their ways, it's best to talk to their supervisor. If a CEO is a perpetrator, speak to them and show them how a hostility-free workplace is in the business's best interest; put into perspective employee turnover rates and associated costs. Confrontation and open communication are the best ways to initiate a course of action that will ensure a shift towards a healthy work environment.
2. Fix the culture
Introduce a company policy that focuses on the mitigation of undesirable elements. Make sure all your employees and the perpetrators are aware of the disciplinary action that will follow in case hostile behaviour continues or is highlighted in the future. Lay out the rules very clearly and ensure that everyone in the organization is aware of what qualifies as favourable and unfavourable behaviour.
3. Increase awareness
Initiate communication with senior officials and employees. Make them aware of what counts as hostile behaviour and ask them to report cases of abuse of power and hostility whenever they see or face it.