Creating a Positive Work Environment: Addressing Hostile Work Environments

November 27, 2023 Employment Law

No employer plans on having a hostile work environment. But, hostile work environments can arise for a variety of different reasons—and, when they do, employers need to work proactively to protect their employees and themselves.

Turning around a hostile work environment and creating a positive, inclusive, and fulfilling place to work is a process that requires a clear short-term and long-term strategy. Here are some key considerations for employers that need to rectify hostile work environments:

Hostile Work Environments Generally Don’t Get Better on Their Own

The first thing to understand is that hostile work environments generally don’t get better on their own. In most cases, taking a wait-and-see approach will only allow the situation to get worse. It only takes one incident to negatively impact an employee’s life—and put the company at risk for litigation—so a proactive approach is required.

Any Immediate Concerns Should Be Addressed Right Away

If there are any immediate concerns about employees’ physical or emotional well-being, these should be addressed right away. The effects of harassment are very real, and employees should not have to endure any form of harassment in the workplace. Again, litigation is a concern as well, and ignoring harassment (or even potential harassment) can make it much more difficult for employers to defend themselves effectively.

It Is Important to Understand the Challenges Your Employees are Facing

Too often, employers try to rectify hostile work environments without understanding the true challenges their employees are facing. As a result, they overlook issues, and their efforts are not as effective as they should be. While employers need to respond to hostile work environments quickly, they also need to ensure that they have a clear understanding of the specific steps that are necessary to meet their employees’ needs and reasonable expectations.

Accountability Starts at the Top

Regardless of who individually is responsible for creating a hostile work environment, accountability starts at the top. To send a clear message that they are committed to rectifying the issues in their workplaces, employers should acknowledge that they have work to do, and their executives should lead by example as they work toward fostering a positive and productive community.

Implementing Documented Policies and Procedures is the Key to Long-Term Success

Preventing harassment in the workplace requires documented policies and procedures that address the specific risks employers and their employees face on a day-to-day basis. But, simply having policies and procedures isn’t enough. Employers need to implement their policies and procedures in all areas of their operations, and this includes providing appropriate training to their employees. Investing in a positive work environment will pay dividends in the long run—both in terms of minimizing the company’s employment-related risk and maximizing its workforce’s productivity.

Discuss Your Company’s Needs with a Consultant at AR Group   

If your company is dealing with a hostile work environment, we can provide the tools, training, and resources you need to move forward. To schedule an appointment with an HR consultant at AR Group, please call 720-452-3300 or tell us how we can reach you online today.