Managing Harassment In The Workplace

Fatihah Ramzi, DigitalCFO Asia | 29 July 2022

Business executives need to understand workplace harassment in order to prevent a hostile work climate in their company.

There is workplace harassment, and it should not be disregarded or treated casually. Business executives must understand workplace harassment in order to prevent a hostile work climate in their company, which can range from bullying to blatant discrimination. Businesses can take the required action to ensure a safe working environment for all of their employees by developing a workplace harassment policy.

While verbal is the most common sort, there are also more dangerous variations including physical and sexual harassment. Workplace harassment of any kind is forbidden and not accepted. They not only have an impact on a worker’s performance, comfort, and safety at work, but they can also expose a company to legal risk if harassment is not handled correctly.


Types Of Workplace Harassment

It is not always easy to recognize workplace harassment because it can take many different forms. Knowing the many signs of workplace harassment can help you spot it when it affects you or a coworker.

Verbal harassment

The constant war of devastation that verbal abuse can be can endanger both your job and health. It comprises of insulting comments, rude body language, and irrational criticism. It may include epithets, slurs, offensive jokes, and cruel remarks. Since verbal harassment is a non-physical type of violence, it can be challenging to identify and frequently falls into a gray area.

Cyberbullying

Even if it occurs online, digital harassment can be equally as harmful as bullying that occurs in person. It is the most recent type of harassment, and it happens everywhere. Digital harassment involves sending threats or humiliating remarks online, adopting a false identity to bully someone, constructing a webpage about the victim to ridicule and denigrate them, and making untrue claims. Given the prevalence of internet-connected devices in the office and the increased acceptance of forbidden topics for discussion, social media use in the workplace has become widespread. Anyone can now easily harass others online.

Physical Harassment

The severity of physical harassment at work varies. Simple unwanted gestures, such as touching an employee’s hair, face, or clothing, as well as more severe ones, such as physical assault, threats of violence, and damage to private property, can all fall under this category. Physical harassment can vary greatly in severity, making it challenging to pinpoint. If there is no bodily harm done, some physical harassment might be dismissed as a joke. It may nonetheless qualify as physical harassment even if no serious physical injury results. Employees should call the police right away if there is violence and refrain from becoming involved.

Sexual harassment

Contrary to popular belief, sexual harassment is a serious infraction that occurs frequently. Anyone can engage in or experience sexual harassment. Unwanted sexual advances including inappropriate touching, sexual jokes, exchanging pornography, sending sexual messages, or asking for sexual favors in exchange for a promotion or job security are all considered sexual harassment. It may not always be easy to define sexual harassment, despite the fact that it may appear simple.

The majority of the time, it is concealed in light-hearted banter, unoffensive remarks coupled by suggestive body language or tones, or embarrassing but initially innocent words that negatively represent members of a particular gender, typically women. As a result, there is room for ambiguity, which makes it simple for offenders to get away with their actions.

Prevention Tips For Business Leaders

Now comes the responsibility of every business leader. They need to be very vigilant when it comes to situations involving harassment. Their first priority needs to be, taking measures to guarantee that harassment does not take place in the first place. For which they must ensure the following:

Written Policy Against Harassment:

The business must have a written policy that is very explicit, concise, and well-explained regarding what constitutes harassment, how it may be reported, and what sanctions will be applied to those found guilty. Their legal counsel must be consulted while creating this policy. The policy must clearly declare that the company will not allow any form of harassment and will act right away if such instances are discovered. Examples of workplace harassment must be given and may involve discrimination in the form of inappropriate physical contact, bullying, intimidation, or offensive remarks.

Training Sessions:

The company must look into two types of trainings:

1. Training sessions on respecting your coworkers, acting ethically, and upholding workplace civility.

2. Training on what constitutes harassment under company and national legislation. methods for reporting abuse (seen or personally experienced). What punishments will be imposed on anyone found guilty or accused of harassing? investigation process that will be followed after a report has been filed.

Open Discussion Policy:

It is crucial for a company to develop a culture where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and reporting any challenges they may be having. The workforce feels free to approach and lodge a complaint in such a setting. When an employee notices the earliest indications of abuse, he could step up and report them rather than waiting until things get out of hand if he feels that he will be heard.

Actions in Case of Harassment

Sadly, if a complaint of harassment is made by an employee, the company must take the following actions:

Hearing Out: In this circumstance, the company needs to play a very consoling role. The employee who is reporting needs to be taken seriously and must be given the chance to clarify their issue in full. In the same vein, the accused must also be given a fair opportunity to explain.

Written Records: The complaint and the accused’s defence must both be documented in writing, and a case file must be kept at all times.

Internal Investigation: The company must right away look into the character and moral history of both the accuser and the complainant. This guarantees the veracity of the complaint and provides a pattern of the alleged offender’s behavior. 

Gathering Evidence: In order to gather as much information as possible, the company must look into coworkers and prospective witnesses.

Legal Action: After the company has thoroughly investigated the incident, they should consult with their attorneys and handle the situation legally.


It is extremely important for company executives to take responsibility for workplace harassment or abuse. Companies need to have extremely strict procedures defining harassment and its repercussions. These guidelines must be very explicit. Every new hire must receive thorough orientation and training on what constitutes abuse and its components. If this is given top priority, a company can maintain an abuse-free culture, considerably enhancing the overall health of the workplace.