When an office or job site turns hostile, it negatively impacts employees and harms morale. Recognizing what constitutes such an environment is the first step in creating a positive and respectful workplace culture.
By learning the indicators of a hostile workspace, everyone should feel more comfortable taking corrective actions.
Sign 1. Discrimination and harassment
One of the primary indicators of job-related hostility is the presence of unequal treatment stemming from race, gender, age, religion or other personal characteristics. When staffers find themselves dealing with unwelcome comments, slurs or offensive jokes relating to their identity, it creates an emotionally fraught atmosphere that can be psychologically damaging.
Sign 2. Intimidation and bullying
Hostile work environments may manifest through demoralizing conduct. This can include verbal abuse, constant criticism or threats that create a sense of fear and unease. When management tolerates or ignores these problems, unhealthy attitudes reign supreme.
Sign 3. Unfair treatment
Treating employees differently depending on personal relationships creates an antagonistic atmosphere. It undermines the principles of equity and integrity when friendship guides promotions and opportunities rather than merit.
Sign 4. Retaliation
Employees may fear retribution for reporting their concerns. This is a more reasonable worry than many might think. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission suggests that retaliation plays a role in 55.8% of harassment incidents filed with the agency. When individuals who speak out subsequently receive punishment or mistreatment, it discourages others from making their voices heard.
Fostering a healthy workplace begins with knowing the signs of a hostile work environment. Both employees and employers must join forces to identify and rectify the factors that allow toxic behaviors to thrive.