It might be easy to think, “that would never happen in my business,” but workplace harassment is an issue that traverses all industries, all working environments, and all sizes of organization. Ranging from workplace bullying, to sexual harassment, through to outright discrimination, this particular problem can be one of many faces, and the signs aren’t always obvious. Would you know which indicators to look out for?

But surely, if workplace harassment took place on your premises or within the teams under your command, someone would speak up—right? Sadly, research indicates that 75% of incidents go unreported. With these factors in mind, it is crucial to be familiar with a spectrum of signs that could let you know that a hostile workplace environment is beginning to take hold. So let’s dig into the facts. Read on as we reveal the red flags that can serve as signals that workplace harassment may be taking place, and what you can do about it.

What Is Workplace Harassment?

Because verbal and psychological workplace harassment don’t leave a mark or a trail, victims often feel uncomfortable and confused about whether reporting their experiences is a good idea, or even afraid of retaliation if they do. Of course, that fear becomes all the more palpable when physical or sexual harassment are taking place.

In terms of who may be impacted—or who may be the harasser—it’s important to remember that this type of interaction is not always relegated to superior/subordinate working relationships. Workplace harassment may cross teams, with the harasser working in a role above, below, or even unconnected to the victim. Particular forms of misconduct could include slurs, name-calling, offensive jokes, intimidation, insults, ridicule, or work disruption—and these may take place in person, or within the digital realm, otherwise known as “cyber bullying.”

The reality is that all forms of of workplace harassment are not only illegal, but also guaranteed to leave a sizable hole in your bottom line. When any form of harassment at work is tolerated, you can anticipate a drop in productivity and a surge in turnover as employees’ sense of safety and camaraderie is eroded. Not to mention, the very real risk of litigation will also be looming.

What Are the Signs of Workplace Harassment?

The most obvious indicator that some form of workplace bullying, discrimination, or sexual harassment may be taking place is of course a complaint. These should always be followed by immediate and strategic corporate investigations. However, when incidents go unreported, you can safeguard employees by remaining alert to the following signs:

  • Behavioral Changes
    If you notice a sudden change in an employee’s behavior—perhaps with them becoming more withdrawn and avoidant of corporate events or meetings—then a check-in is advisable.
  • Performance Changes
    An employee who starts missing deadlines, struggling to focus, or performing to a lower standard may be struggling with the burden of workplace harassment.
  • Atmosphere Changes
    While only one individual may be the direct victim of workplace harassment, the rest of your team may also be bearing the brunt of its occurrence. A disintegration in communication, rising tensions, and higher turnover may all be red flags.
  • Attendance Changes
    The experience of being harassed or witnessing harassment can be both stressful and traumatizing. This may lead a once-punctual employee to begin arriving late, missing important events, or increasingly calling in sick.

Corporate Investigation Services: Spotlighting the Truth of Your Suspicions

Workplace harassment is a sensitive issue that, when handled poorly, can have substantial legal ramifications for any business or organization. If you have received a complaint of workplace harassment or suspect that an incident may have taken place, turn to Lauth Investigations International for assistance. Our specialist corporate investigators offer expertise in revealing the truth through diligent, documented, and legally sound workplace investigations.
If you are concerned that a larger pattern of misconduct or poor corporate culture may be evolving within your team, take proactive action with a Corporate Culture Audit. This health-check for your business will paint a clear picture of the current landscape, and deliver a clear roadmap for how to create an environment where workplace harassment is not welcome, and employees can flourish and succeed. Contact our team today to learn more.