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Last Updated : Jul 20, 2019 09:22 AM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Workplace harassment needs to be recognised

Human resource managers, to a large extent, are ignorant of the concerns of the employees

M Saraswathy @maamitalks
Representative image: Pixabay
Representative image: Pixabay

Arindam Bhattacharya’s three-year tenure at a mid-sized bank was no less than a period of torture. Not only was he consistently taunted for his weight, but his juniors would directly discuss work matters with the regional head as well. Multiple complaints yielded no results, and he finally decided to quit.

Workplace harassment and toxic work environments are a reality. Colleagues uncomfortable with the individual’s progress, difficult bosses or a culture of misogyny and racism can make a job fraught with challenges. And, there is a need for companies to identify this as a threat to productivity.

Considering the work culture in India, a major portion of a day is spent with work colleagues. Since most of the jobs involve working in teams, which makes it difficult to ignore unpleasant behaviour.

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On one hand while there are tough laws for sexual harassment, regulations around toxic offices are a rarity. Human resource managers, to a large extent, are ignorant of the concerns of the employees.

As per a HBR Ascend survey, a difficult boss is considered the biggest barrier to performance in Southeast Asia. Here, 30 percent of respondents cited a difficult boss as the greatest barrier. Globally, office politics has been ranked as the top barrier to performance.

The direct impact of office politics is to ensure that whoever does not subscribe to the majority view is bullied. This could include being removed from crucial projects, poor ratings during appraisals or being screamed at constantly.

At a Mumbai-based online content platform, several employees dread the weekly call. This is where the founder publicly humiliates the staff about missing targets or content errors. On most weeks, the call ends with a few employees breaking down in front of other colleagues.

Countries like South Korea are already taking a lead. The country passed a legislation this week imposing heavy penalties of above $25,000 on individuals who fire employees complaining of office bullying. This was aimed at cracking down on the toxic work culture prevalent in the organisations across South Korea.

Due to the demographic differences, inappropriate workplace behaviour crops up. At a telecom giant, workers from the North-East would constantly complain about the racist comments. The HR head had to hold a workshop to discuss this issue and the issue of passing any statements about colleagues or their food preferences. He admits that it is still work in progress.

Anxiety and depression are among the most common mental health ailments in the working community. The least that an organisation can do is to ensure that the workplace is a safe environment to work in, both physically and emotionally.


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First Published on Jul 20, 2019 09:22 am
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