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Harassment: Effects On People and Organisations

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Harassment is a form of bullying.

“Knowing what’s right doesn’t mean much unless you do what’s right.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Harassment, which is a form of bullying, is an unfortunate part of some workplaces nowadays. As defined in dictionaries, it is ‘an act that annoys or bothers someone in a constant or repeated way’. Harrassment in the workplace can cause anxiety, stress, fear and even affeact mental and physical health for the employees experiencing it. As a result, their productivity and efficiency are negatively affected, making the organisation’s performance deteriorate as well.

One of the unique and distinguishing characteristics of harassment is the vulnerability of the person who experiences it. Often, they are reluctant to complain. They may want the bullying and harassment to stop, but are afraid and unaware of how to take action. Thus, making them suffer in silence and eventually, give up or quit.

Emotional Effects of Harassment

Harassment’s effect on an individual can range from simple irritation to extreme depression. Those who are subjected to these types of behavior can lose their self-esteem and morale. As a result, they are frequently disrupted and are unable to concentrate fully on their tasks. Inconsistent timekeeping, increased absenteeism, lack of commitment and low performance may take place, which eventually may lead to resignation. All of this will have a direct impact on organisation’s performance and effectivity. In addition, anxieties are also manifested in both the employee’s personal and family life.

Sexual Harassment

Crude jokes, pin-ups, sexual innuendo, whistling and so on – these are acts of sexual harassment that unfortunately do happen in the modern workplace. Often, people who are subject to this type of harassment do not speak up. However, inside them, embarrassment quickly gives way to anger. This anger, just like the feeling of ‘fear-to-speak-up-when-bullied’, is also hidden.

Sexually harassed individuals also deal with guilt for a number of reasons. In spite of being bullied, they may still feel they are the ones who initiated those sexual insults through the language they use or the way they dress. The worst part of it is their fear of telling this problem to their partners, family or friends, in fear of judgement and the possibility of losing their job.

As a result, the tension, anger, fear and frustrations build up and lead to physical problems, like headaches or nausea, depression, insomnia and hypertension. 

Reactions to Sexual Harassment

Managers should be very careful in dealing with harassment issues. They must help, but not to the point of lending a shoulder to cry on. Managers should deal with these kinds of issues objectively and fairly. Personal feelings must not interfere with the objectivity required in situations like these. Most importantly, managers should lead by example, avoiding game playing or jokes that may result to someone being belittled or excluded. Reflecting on their own behavior and feeling concerning harassment is often the best way to lessen this problem.

Harassment Checklist

  • Feelings Associated With Being Harassed
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  • Effects of Harassment in an Organization
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Let us always remind ourselves that harassment can ruin an individual’s life forever. It has the ability to affect not only emotions but also the physical and mental well-being of a person. It can even lead to more major problems such as illness and even death (suicide). Fairness and respect must always be present in a workplace to maintain balanced working relationships.

Here is another article from the blog series:

Bullying: Effects on People and Reasons Behind It

Here you can find a list of Anti-Harassment Groups & Campaigns around the world.

Back Off!

Bullying and harassment undermine creativity, productivity and respect. Use this book to help you identify and manage such unacceptable behaviour.

Read now