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How can employees deal with a hostile work environment?

On Behalf of | Apr 24, 2020 | Employment Law, Hostile Work Environment

Your place of employment shouldn’t make you feel like you’re walking into a battlefield. It should be a place where you feel welcome, safe, and encouraged by your colleagues and supervisors. However, that’s not always the case.

Hostile work environments can make going into work feel like a chore or a burden. You can’t just quit your job, but the attitude of your coworkers makes you question whether you’re in the right place. Even if you’re not a direct target of harassment, merely hearing these comments in passing and knowing how other people in your office act can be incredibly demoralizing.

If you’re stuck in a hostile work environment, you might feel like there’s no way out. However, there are some measures you can take to make each day a little more manageable:

  • Take a break – Sometimes, the best way to battle negativity is by walking away from it. If you hear coworkers making disparaging comments, it might be a good time to get more coffee or take a walk around the building. If possible, you can also step outside for a breath of fresh air.
  • Listen to music – If your workplace allows you to wear headphones, you might want to put on your favorite music that will keep your spirits up. You can also listen to an audiobook or podcast – anything to help prevent you from hearing negative comments.
  • Make friends – The chances are that you are not the only one in the office who feels uncomfortable by the hostility. Seek out like-minded colleagues who can provide you a sense of security in this negative environment. With the help of allies, you can come up with ways to deal with other coworkers as well.
  • Keep records – If you’re a target of harassment, it’s essential to document all the comments you receive. Even if you have no plans to address the situation formally, keeping a record of what’s been happening can help in the future if someone else reports the harassment or if you change your mind and wish to take action.
  • Talk to your boss or HR – Depending on the type of harassment, you may need to discuss with someone with more power in the office. Address the situation with your boss or Human Resources. Offer some suggestions for how to improve the negativity in the workplace.

Hostile work environments can drastically impact your performance at work. You should feel comfortable while completing your daily tasks and shouldn’t have the added stress of coworkers making offensive comments about you or others.

You must take any necessary steps to help you deal with a hostile environment. Ultimately, you may need to file a harassment claim or find a new job. Your comfort and safety are important, so make sure you find what will help prioritize those factors in the face of negativity.

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