Protect Your People and Your Brand
High profile complaints about toxic workplace behavior feature regularly in the news. The latest example concerns allegations against director and showrunner Joss Wheldon. Yet another (and one that aptly illustrates the potential risk to brand reputation and investor confidence is Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision following allegations of continuing bullying and sexism in which Activision CEO Bobby Kotick is expected to leave. Ironically, Microsoft itself recently opened an investigation into workplace sexual harassment and gender discrimination as a result of pressure from nearly 78 percent of shareholders.
One thing particularly interesting about many of these cases is how long it takes for people to communicate they’ve endured inappropriate behavior. Why is it so hard for employees to speak up about toxic workplace conditions?
In this post we talk about:
- Reasons why people don’t speak up about inappropriate behavior and harassment
- How to create a workplace culture that encourages people to speak up about inappropriate behavior and harassment
- Why it is difficult for employees to speak up in remote work situations
- How your organization can detect and respond to toxic communications without relying on your employees reporting it
Why Employees are Reluctant to Speak Up
Francesca Gino,behavioral scientist and Tandon Family Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School points to a number of reasons why it’s so hard to speak up against a toxic culture. These include:
- Human Resources (HR) department ignored or discounted complaints so as to protect powerful executives and avoid media attention. Knowing that HR was unlikely to take action, employees developed a “why try?” attitude towards reporting harassment.
- Employees feared alienating coworkers and supervisors and be seen as a “tattletale.”
- Retribution for “rocking the boat” in the form of negative performance reviews, undesirable job assignments, and possible termination.
- When harassment targets a group of people, individuals in the group are inclined to “let someone else take action,” what is clinically known as the Bystander Effect.
Can an organization address these factors and overcome employee resistance to speak up about toxic workplace behavior?
How to Encourage Employees to Speak Up About Toxic Behavior
Gino points to the #MeToo movement as an example of how there is “safety in numbers.” She notes that, “Other people’s behavior can clarify the social norms of a given situation, which can lead us to act in a similar way.”
Indeed, a workplace culture that encourages employees to speak up about toxic behavior, and an HR department that follows up on complaints and prevents retaliation, are key to preventing harassment and other inappropriate conduct. According to Gino, “Organizations need to convey to employees that they will be protected and valued if they share suggestions, opinions, and concern —and that those who harmed them will face serious consequences. By doing so, leaders can encourage those who are being mistreated to find their voice.”
CommSafe AI Speaks for Your People, So They Don’t Have To
Given that many organizations are going to maintain remote work arrangements even post-pandemic, what is the best way to ensure toxic-free behavior in email and messaging communications? And without even needing people to report and speak up about it.
The only practical answer is CommSafe AI Safe Communications Software™, a smart, scalable tool that detects in real-time potential toxic content in email and chat communications. A first-of-its-kind in the market tool, CommSafe AI Safe Communications Software, detects and flags unacceptable terms that indicate harassment as well as inappropriate tone and sentiment.
Your people don’t need to speak up. CommSafe AI Safe Communications Software does it for them. And eliminates any feeling that an employee is a tattletale or risks retaliation for speaking up.
CommSafe AI Safe Communications Software scans for potential issues and designates them for your HR staff to determine next steps. It works with your organization’s systems and methodologies and easily integrates with your tech, case management system, and workflows.
It’s the intelligent solution combining machine learning and human judgement and experience to identify and stop online harassment before it escalates into a problem that harms employees and your company.
See for yourself with this demo how the unspeakable can be found and prevented.