It is believed that workers and employees in the workplace are professionals both at their jobs and how they interact with other professionals, regardless of sex or gender. While this is supposed to be the standard, some employees fail in how they treat the opposite sex.
So many things affect productivity in the workplace including discrimination, cultural competence, and of course, sexual harassment. In this article, we’ll be focusing on sexual harassment, how it affects employees, companies, and finally, how it can be curbed or eradicated in the workplace.
Table of Contents
What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is in the workplace is a global problem that has serious repercussions and consequences for victims. It can take a wide range of forms including unwanted sexual advances, crude jokes, sexual favors, and so on. It is important to note, however, that harassment isn’t always of a sexual nature, but it can include offensive remarks or comments about a person’s sex. For instance, making derogatory comments about men or women in general.
Both genders can be a victim or harasser. That said, several studies reveal that women are mostly the victims of the act. We must also point out that according to the EEOC, the law doesn’t prohibit offhand comments and simple teasing that are not serious. However, it becomes illegal when they become severe, creating an offensive work environment, or causing an unfavorable employment decision, especially for the victim. Click here to learn more about sexual harassment laws.
Sexual harassment in the workplace can take the following forms:
- Whistling at an employee or co-worker.
- Making sexual comments about someone’s body.
- Making kissing sounds.
- Referring to an adult as a boy, girl, or doll.
- Incessantly asking out an employee or co-worker that is not interested.
- Telling sexual jokes, and so on.
- Elevator eyes.
- Making sexual gestures either with the hands or through body movements.
- Blocking a person’s path.
- Staring, and so on.
- Sexual texts
- Touching an employee’s body, clothes, or hair.
- Kissing, stroking, patting, or hugging.
- Brushing up against a co-worker or employee
- Sexually rubbing or touching oneself around another person, and so on.
Effects of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
The following are some of its effects in the workplace:
Employees’ Wellbeing Suffers
As you may already have guessed, it is the victims that suffer the most, especially emotionally. The emotional effects on victims include suppressed anger, guilt, embarrassment, fear, and low self-esteem. In extreme cases, the victim begins to experience anxiety attacks that may influence how they see, treat, or perceive the opposite sex in general. An employer that cares about their employees’ wellbeing will know that introducing a sexual harassment prevention training is one way to deal with the issue.
The effect of this ugly act isn’t just emotional, no, it is widespread, affecting other areas of the victim’s life. Our emotional health is connected to our physical health. What this means is that when we begin to suffer emotionally, it is only a matter of time before it takes a toll on our bodies.
A person who is harassed could suffer from, headaches, weight loss or gain, loss of sleep, high blood pressure, nausea, and loss of appetite. In some cases, they even begin to abuse alcohol and other substances.
A victim’s finances may also suffer once the effect of this act begins to compound. If they continue with the job, as we mentioned, they could develop the habit of abusing alcohol and drugs. Depending on how severe this is, it could take a toll on their finances. Also, they may decide to leave their current job for one that pays less in a bid to escape the ongoing harassment.
Company Loses Out on Productivity and Finances
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that companies eventually suffer from the effect of this illegal act. After all, the employees are also responsible for the success and profitability of the business. Naturally, a worker who is in a bad state emotionally, physically, and mentally will perform a lot less than if they were in great shape.
If a company fails to check harassment in the workplace, over time, several other employees may become victims. This will inevitably affect the company’s productivity, and eventually, profitability as teams and departments experiences higher employee turnover. Visit https://www.hrprofilingsolutions.com.au/blogs/aus-blog/employee-turnover-causes-effects-strategies/ to learn more about the effects of employee turnover.
A company’s reputation will also take a hit as victims may sue for sexual harassment. Between repairing their damaged reputation and fighting several lawsuits, the company is bound to lose money. Depending on the severity of the situation, the company may end up spending several thousands of dollars.
How Can Sexual Harassment Training Help?
Sexual harassment training is essential in the fight against this ugly act. Effective training should clearly let every stakeholder know that it is their responsible to speak up and report any incident of the act. The key is to nip it in the bud before it gets out of control and spread throughout the organization.
As we mentioned earlier, it can take different forms, some may be subtle while others may be somewhat obvious. When employees are trained to recognize and report even the slightest hint of harassment, the act can be curbed or eradicated, leading to a positive and healthy workplace.
Most sexual harassment cases have female employees as victims. As a matter of fact, younger female employees with older male superiors are the most affected. To prevent this, companies should create policies that protect this category of workers and set strict laws guarding against the act.