It’s important that you are able to recognize if your workplace is toxic. A toxic work environment makes the workday longer and harder for everyone, so it’s necessary to take steps to correct it.
As an employer, it’s your responsibility to make sure that your employees work in a place that is accepting, welcoming and respectful. A toxic work culture could reflect negatively on your business, and it may lead to lawsuits related to sexual harassment, discrimination or other issues.
Understanding what makes a hostile environment
When you think of a hostile work environment, what do you imagine? Do you think about people yelling at each other or a struggling employee with a high-stress workload? A hostile work environment, legally speaking, is one where an employer, supervisor or coworker’s actions make it impossible for someone to do a job. Those actions must be discriminatory in nature.
When an employee makes a hostile work environment claim, they will need to show that they were discriminated against or harassed based on factors such as the targeted employee’s:
- Sexual orientation
- National origin
- Inclusion in another protected class
What can you do to minimize hostility in the workplace?
Your job is to create and enforce policies that reduce the chances of hostile work scenarios occurring. If an employee approaches you about a situation they were uncomfortable with, take that complaint seriously. Be prepared to reeducate or terminate the employment of people who harass others or who discriminate.
Since you’re an employer, you play a major role in eliminating hostile work environments. If you take action to prevent these behaviors, you’ll be in a better position if a claim is ever made against you.