The pandemic is creating havoc everywhere and is making life difficult for everyone. The economic slowdown is causing job loss, pay cuts, and overall change in workplace dynamics. One such massive change is the switch of employees working from home rather than a physical office. This has become the norm across the globe and is thus creating new definitions of work decorum.
Everything from work ethics to team dynamics is changing. People are trying to embrace the new normal. While one might believe that this puts an end to one of the many workplace evils like harassment, you couldn’t be more wrong. If you are a workplace harassment victim during the pandemic or an HR person who has to address the complaint, here’s how you could handle it.
The outbreak is also spreading discrimination and hate in society. Experts claim that this time the xenophobia is worse than it was in the post 9/11 attacks. A lot of Asian people are reporting hate crimes. The accusations of them spreading the virus is rampant. From calling it the China virus to abusing Asian people, there’s a lot of hate out there. Healthcare workers who are continually striving to serve the people are on the receiving end of the hate, too, just because of their ethnicity. And this proves that as management, it is your responsibility to protect your employees even from discrimination by customers.
There have been several reports coming in every day that show the magnitude of hate for the Asian people currently. From being spat at to yelled, beaten up, to being avoided in public, they’re facing it all. There’s no denying that the same hate will not reflect in your workplace too. Organizations need to address this xenophobia and create a sense of awareness. If you hear about any discrimination in the workplace, you need to address it, whether or not someone reports it.
Harassment in the online workspace
The onus is upon the organizations to drive and build a positive approach towards fellow employees. Creating a work culture where there is no racial discrimination, not just in speech but in thought and action, is crucial too. As an organization, it is crucial for you to create awareness and spread the message of “No Tolerance” against harassment policy.
You might also have to look for innovative avenues of harassment that a few employees might be practicing against their peers and subordinates. For instance, getting one person to work for excessive hours, a pay cut, or firing an employee because of their natural origin or race.
Increasing Case of Virtual Harassment
A recent study shows that there’s a steep rise in the harassment cases of employees while working online comparison to the instances when one would work from the office. Most employees are collaboration through Zoom, Skype, GoToMeeting, and other such tools all day long. This only increases the possibility of online harassment. Visual and verbal abuse is on the rise. However, these cases are slightly different than traditional harassment cases.
While earlier there was an ample number of cases of employees reporting sexual harassment at the workplace, there’s a shift in the way that happens now. From verbal abuses and showing images that are suggestive of adult content, the harassment is now happening through memes and text messages.
How to deal with it?
A California Court of Appeal in a recent case found emails, text messages, and other electronic communications as valid evidence for sexual harassment. While organizations are struggling with numerous issues during the pandemic, they should continue to fight harassment at the workplace. Bullying, sexual harassment, discrimination will only worsen the situation we are currently in. So, if you come across a complaint on unacceptable behavior, you should deal with it.
Besides that, organizations should actively conduct sensitivity training across geographies. It helps the employees understand the consequences of their actions. Battling harassment at the workplace should be the last thing your employe should worry about. This is a tough time for everyone, and there’s a lot of anxiety, panic, and fear. However, spreading hate isn’t going to resolve the crisis. Instead, stand by your fellow human beings and be supportive of each other. That’s the only way we’d make it out of it!