workplace controversies

HR How-To: Tips to Handle Common Workplace Controversies

Whether you’re teacher or an HR Manager, you will encounter high-tension moments in the workplace that require deescalation skills. It is important to know how to effectively handle controversy so that the work environment can remain pleasant and productive.

You can employ several techniques as a mediator that will help you work through any high-stress situations that come your way, such as these tips on how to skillfully navigate through some of the most controversial conversations within the work environment:

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a common workplace issue. Often people within the work environment will gossip or joke about the vaguely sexual misbehavior of their coworker, rather than report it. When you hear someone talk about feeling uncomfortable in the presence of another person, reach out and help discover the details.

Brush up on workplace rules and the specifics that indicate a case of sexual harassment. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission government website provides an in-depth review of what constitutes sexual harassment. Talk openly with either party involved in sexual harassment and discuss the severity of the issue. Make sure the party who feels harassed keeps an account of these situations to gather evidence that will allow for due action.

Social Biases

Workplace discrimination occurs all too often. Those who are of a minority race, religion, culture or gender may be treated unfairly compared to their coworkers. If someone approaches you with a complaint about unfair treatment, make sure they keep a journal account of the discriminatory situations. Explain that a list of the events and actions will help the two of you process the information. You can use this list when you talk with the liable party about what discriminatory behavior looks like.

Make sure the person who has come to you with the complaint feels supported and respected. HR Hero has an in-depth section about discrimination in the workplace that provides ample information to enhance your HR IQ.

Unsafe Working Environment

Any health or safety hazard in the work environment may case a lot of stress for workers. You will likely encounter some very upset workers who feel as if their employers are not taking the employees’ well-being seriously.

Ask the distressed worker to fill out a list of the specific unsafe workplace elements. Go through each concern with the worker and annotate the level of emotion attached with each issue. Assure the upset party that you will submit the complaint and will make sure the issues are fixed as soon as possible.

If workers are severely worried about their health or safety, offer them the appropriate paid leave until the issues are fixed. This will help them feel that they’ve been heard and that the company cares.

Workplace Bullying

Bullying has left the playground and entered the workplace. A number of personality types congregate within the office, and conflict is likely to occur. If there is a report of bullying, take the complaint seriously.

Advise the attacked party to keep an account of the bully’s actions and offenses. Ask another manager to keep a close, but discreet, eye on the alleged bully. Also, send out a survey to all employees asking if they are also experiencing bullying in the workplace.

Assure the individual that you are working toward a remedy for the situation and offer this employee company-paid workplace bully therapy.


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