Workplace harassment is:
- the offensive, belittling or threatening behavior directed at an individual worker or a group of workers
- the odious dealing through pitiless, malevolent, hurtful or embarrassing attempts to undermine an individual worker or groups of workers.
Recently, matters of workplace harassment have gained interest among practitioners and researchers as it is becoming one of the most sensitive areas of effective workplace management. In Oriental countries, it attracted lots of attention from researchers and governments since the 1980s, because a significant source of work stress is associated with aggressive behaviors at workplace. Third world countries are far behind oriental countries in that there are limited efforts to investigate the questions on workplace harassment. It is almost unseen and the executive leaders (managers) are almost reluctant or unconscious about it in the third world countries. Under occupational health and safety laws around the world, workplace harassment and workplace bullying are identified as being core psychosocial hazards.
In a workplace, such as an office, a factory, a building, a private home, an educational institution or a store, the harasser may pick any of the diversity issues to make one feeling uncomfortable. Harassers commonly pick sex, religion, birthplace, age, political beliefs, physical disability of a co-worker to harass them.
Harassment in workplaces is usually performed by a person such as a boss, superior, manager, director, coworker, customer, patient, delivery person or a person in a union. However, the responsibility of preventing workplace harassment generally lies with the human resources department of an organization in which the management's and administration's effectiveness also plays an immense part. Females are mostly harassed by their clients/customers and their male workers are mostly harassed by their coworkers.
For an organization, workplace harassment can deteriorate and have a serious impact on workers' career prospects. Workers' reputations may be negatively affected due to harassment directed toward them. Apart from the aforementioned, it compels an organization to experience some problems, such as:
- reduction in worker morale
- negatively affecting the productivity and performance of workers
- creating defective relationships
- labor turnover
- lower work pace
- poor concentration to work.
- poor communication.
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