Harassment? Bullying? How You Can Combat Toxic Work Environments

June 25, 2024 Employment Law

While toxic workplaces can be costly for companies, they can be harmful for companies’ employees. As the American Psychological Association (APA) explains, “[t]oxic workplaces [can] leave employees sick, scared, and looking for an exit.” For employees who don’t feel like they have other options, long-term exposure to harassment, bullying, and other forms of mistreatment can have lasting consequences.

These are consequences that companies can—and should—work to prevent.

How? There are a variety of strategies for combating toxic work environments. When dealing with a toxic work environment, the key is to choose a strategy that reflects the company’s culture (or desired culture) and the specific issues at hand. With this in mind, some examples of strategies that often prove successful include:

Adopting a Zero-Tolerance Policy Toward Harassment and Bullying

One of the most efficient—and most important—steps companies can take to start combatting a toxic work environment is by adopting a zero-tolerance policy toward harassment and bullying. There is no place for harassment or bullying in any work environment; and, when these become issues, a prompt, clear and firm response can become critical.

Promoting a Top-Down Commitment to Equality and Inclusivity

Efforts to eliminate workplace toxicity should have clear buy-in and support from the top down. Getting the company’s leaders to deliver the message that harassment and bullying will not be tolerated can help to avoid any ambiguity as to the company’s new direction.

Providing Discrete Opportunities for Employees to Come Forward

When an employee who experiences harassment or bullying is afraid to come forward, this can compound the harmful effects for both the employee and the company. By providing discrete opportunities for employees to report harassment and bullying—and by taking their complaints seriously—companies can start to rebuild trust while also getting to the root of the problem.

Creating Safe Opportunities for Healthy Discussions

Creating safe opportunities for healthy discussions can be an effective means of combating a toxic work environment as well. Town hall meetings, open forums and other similar internal discussions can provide company leaders with valuable feedback while also providing employees with the opportunity to have their voices heard.

Rewarding Efforts to Reverse the Trend

Companies can also promote inclusiveness and equality by rewarding their employees who take steps to help reverse the trend. Incentives can be powerful motivators; and, over time, they can help build momentum that will ultimately lead to powerful and long-term changes. By the same token, holding employees who harass and bully accountable can be a powerful motivator as well—and it can also be important for limiting any potential exposure that may arise out of employees’ misconduct.

Discuss Your Company’s Options with an HR Consultant at AR Group

If you need to know more about the tools and strategies that companies can use to combat toxic work environments, we invite you to get in touch. To discuss your company’s options with an HR consultant at AR Group, please call 720-452-3300 or inquire online today.