Tips For Preventing A Hostile Work Environment In Your Business

Law Articles

In recent years, more employees have been claiming a hostile work environment when leaving a job or after being terminated. Despite how common a phrase this has become, many people don't understand what can really lead to a hostile workplace. Unlike workplace bullying, there isn't a single clear definition that constitutes such a thing. As a business owner, it's important that you understand where the vulnerabilities could be within your business that could lead to such a claim. Here are a few things to be attentive to.

Neglecting Your Employee Training

When you've inadvertently hired some staff members who are underqualified or your employees aren't sufficiently trained in the industry standards and expectations, it can lead to turmoil and unpredictability on the workplace floor.

The same applies if your staff hasn't been adequately trained in appropriate workplace behavior. This is a common concern particularly for entry-level positions where workers may be in their very first job. Unfortunately, this lack of training in professionalism and proper workplace expectations can lead to questionable behaviors, poor attitudes, and other problems that can affect morale.

It's important to remember that hostile work environments aren't restricted to behavior of management. If any of your employees are harassing others, that can also contribute. You can minimize this risk by dedicating continuing education time to workplace conduct and expectations as well as industry education.

Not Setting Adequate Management Expectations

Your management team should serve as the first line of defense against workplace problems. This includes problems created by their own attitudes and behaviors. When your managers and supervisory staff are ill-equipped to guide your staff, it can lead to an environment of disrespect that can breed hostility.

Managers should be trained not only in leadership and mediation skills, but also in how to identify conflicts, violence, and bullying behaviors among both your staff and the other managers. When management overlooks these things, it can leave you potentially exposed to legal problems.

Consider planning management seminars and morale-building events to help keep your entire leadership team on the same page, engaged, and supportive of the business goals.

Failing To Clearly Define Job Roles

When you build your workplace structure and define positions, you need to be sure that the roles of each position are clearly detailed for everyone involved. When employees don't understand their own roles or those of their colleagues, it can set a stage for unrealistic expectations that, when they are not met, breed hostility and resentment. For example, your managers should know exactly what their support staff are expected to do so that they do not blame an employee for not doing something that's not actually a part of their job. Make sure each team member who has to work together clearly understands not only their part in the team, but also the roles of others. This will minimize the risk of anyone feeling like someone isn't pulling their weight.

Overlooking Formal Conflict Resolution Procedures

No matter how well you prepare or how much balance you create in the workplace, some level of conflict is nearly unavoidable. When you don't have a policy in place to help manage that conflict, you may find that seemingly insignificant problems develop into serious issues over time. Differing opinions or perspectives can gradually lead to resentments and poor morale, which may cause one or more employees to feel an air of hostility in the environment.

Take time to work with a conflict resolution specialist to put a plan in place for dealing with even the smallest disagreements. That way, you know that you're doing everything you can to deal with any eventuality. Once you have a plan in place for resolving these things, you should distribute that information to everyone in the workplace and make sure it's always accessible so that there's never a question about how to resolve problems among the staff.

If you're concerned about the risks of developing a hostile work environment in your business, talk with an employer attorney today. He or she can help you understand the legal expectations and implications of these types of issues and give you more tools to reduce your exposure risk.


9 May 2017