What comes to your mind when you think of a hostile work environment?
Most probably you’ll think of a workplace where one is prone to offensive conduct, gender inequality, race discrimination, poor human resource management, sexual harassment, and so on.
Employees and job seekers have many aspirations about their workplaces. Most people aspire to be in a workplace where they work, learn, socialize and have fun with their co-workers.
A healthy workplace is not a luxury but it’s the basic right of every employee and job seeker. It is one of the key aspects towards achieving business goals and an employer simply cannot afford to overlook it.
But, sometimes, the fact is far from the truth.
Many employers often fail to recognise a hostile workplace. In most cases, they tend to overlook it in their pursuit to improve the profitability. Sometimes, claims of misconduct made by the suffering employees go unheard adding more to their woes.
But the question is how would you know if a hostile work environment is created in your organisation?
Here’s your answer about the same
The 7 Reasons Behind a Hostile Work Environment
1. Poor Communication Practices
One of the major reasons that could lead to hostile working conditions is poor communication.
Managers often fail to establish strong and healthy communication with their employees.
As an example, imagine a boss who would not like to pass on the information to his or her employees.
Not only it disrupts the flow of information but it also adversely impacts the work culture. The same issue is also visible amongst the employees who doesn't communicate well. This further fuels any existing differences that may prevail within the workforce. And thus, the true face of a hostile work environment comes into the picture.
2. Workplace Inequality
Employees are often discouraged and made feel neglected at their workplaces. And most of the times, this happens because of their race, color or their sexual orientation.
Such acts are often observed in big corporations where an employee belonging to a different national origin often have to face a hostile approach from the natives. This may be in the form of denied access to certain rights or their involvement in important matters.
Another concern here is the misuse of power by the higher-ups favouring certain employees. Such an employer act is also the prime reason for employee dissatisfaction.
Furthermore, the issue of gender inequality still prevails widely across various industries. Women are still left underestimated and underpaid compared to their male counterparts. Such a biased approach naturally contributes to stress and conflict in the workplace.
3. Dubious In-House Discrimination Laws
Most of the present-day companies have their own discrimination laws. These laws either prohibit or exhibit lawful actions against any employee involved in racial activities.
However, in most cases, such in-house laws fail to truly resolve the issues related to racial discrimination in the workplace. One of the major reasons behind this is that these in-house laws are totally at the disposal of the employer. And here, the risk of the complainant falling prey to favouritism is very high. If the accused is more influential in the decision-making process than proper justice is seldom delivered.
Thus, giving a free hand to anyone supporting discriminatory practices within the organisation.
Also, in most cases, these laws may not clearly define discrimination and its forms. As such, the accused employees often manage to get away citing the loopholes leaving the sufferer helpless and alone.
However, there are certain provisions or agencies to keep these things in check.One such agency is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in the US. Established under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it constantly monitors any racial alarms raised by employees. As well as, they have laid down the various scope of discrimination. Thus, mitigating the loopholes present within a company's in-house laws.
4. Unfair Appraisal System
Another notable employer act that leads to a hostile work environment is an unfair appraisal system.
When managers give more preference to an employee having good relations rather than someone having a superior skill set. It is also counted as one of the indications of a problematic work environment.
Such unfair practices completely breaks down employee morale. Further, it restrains them from putting in some extra efforts to excel in their workplace.
Employees deprived of their due recognition often become anxious about their own work. This is in turn adversely affects their productivity in the workplace. Also, at certain times it pushes the employees into taking certain bad decisions as well.
Thus, employers must always maintain a fair and transparent employee appraisal process. At the same time, they must also discourage any actions that take favouritism into count for getting the work done.
5. Lack of Grievance Cells
Another reason for a healthy work environment turned hostile is the absence of grievance cells.
Grievance cells ease the process of receiving complaints and settling issues in the workplace. It protects employee rights for healthy workplace experience.
But, the lack of such cells results in unfavourable workplace conditions for employees. The absence of grievance cells makes it easier for the wrongdoers to continue with their illicit activities. And it contributes towards a bitter employee experience that often converts to a much bigger issue i.e. employee attrition.
6. Unequal Distribution of Employee Perks and Benefits
Treating your workers unequally while giving out employee benefits may show discrimination.
By disbursing biased perks and benefits you are only promoting division in the workforce and employees might find it unjust. This uneven distribution of employee perks also widens prevailing differences within the workforce.
7. Ignoring Employee Burnout
Employees nowadays stay under work pressure. And the blame for this goes to the growing workload which is now forcing the employees to spend a majority of their time at their desks. As such, their own wellness has fallen into jeopardy. Sedentary lifestyle, occupational burnout have become norms of the corporate culture.
Even substance abuse in the workplace has increased exponentially in recent times. Employees now heavily rely on medications to cope up with the stress and this, in turn, is adversely affecting their health.
This ultimately results in a disengaged workforce which is not good for business.
Thus, it’s up to the employers to give importance to this matter and take adequate measures to mitigate it.
It's up to the employers to decide if they want to give their a bitter or a better experience. Hostile working conditions can bring down businesses and leave a negative impact on the employees for a long time.
The 7 reasons listed above were some of the causes for a hostile work environment that I could think of.
But, if you know some more points equally responsible for hazardous working conditions. We would love to hear them from you in the comments below