How to prevent retaliation in the workplace| Introduction
What is retaliation in the workplace? Workplace retaliation may lead to a terrible work atmosphere and litigation. False charges, unfair scrutiny, blacklisting, inappropriate discipline, and unlawful termination of employees are all examples of workplace retaliation. In this article, I discuss what workplace retaliation is, some examples and warning signs, and how to prevent workplace retaliation at your firm.
Retaliation in the workplace happens when a powerful employee uses that authority to harm a subordinate employee's career or professional growth in the business or even how that person is perceived by management. In other words, when workplace retaliation occurs, there is frequently a power imbalance.
This is frequently due to employees doing something that the other person(s) did not approve of or failure to perform something they desired.
Retaliation can be overt or covert. As a result, even seemingly legal activities might be used to retaliate against a worker. A comprehensive investigation and evidence are required to prove retaliation.
Workplace retaliation is prohibited. According to labour laws, it is against the law to penalize job applicants or workers "for claiming their rights to be free from employment discrimination, including harassment,".
One of the Human Resources Department's (HR) primary responsibilities is to avoid retaliation by collaborating with management to promote a safe workplace for all workers. HR must coach executives and managers on relevant regulations. In addition, HR must create and maintain rules consistent with the laws and hold all workers to the same standards.
If claims of retaliation are made, it is the responsibility of HR to investigate the claims thoroughly, assess the findings, and make a decision that follows the law, aligns with the organization's code of conduct, and reinforces HR's assurance to be objective, fair, and foster a psychologically safe culture.
Workplace retaliation examples
Retaliation in the workplace can take numerous forms, as previously stated. Consider the following two examples.
1. Retaliation against sexual advances
2. Retaliation for protected activity and race discrimination
What are signs of retaliation in the workplace?
Legitimate judgments while leading businesses and managing people may not always delight all employees and may even be detrimental to some. The most critical issue for leaders and managers to evaluate is whether these actions are discriminatory or have a harmful impact. They must also verify that the choices are not made in retaliation.
Many retaliatory indications described below are sometimes required to lead a business or team successfully. As a result, a retaliation sign is just that: a sign.
Employees should not assume that every negative experience at work is retaliation or discriminatory until a full inquiry and proof of retaliation has been conducted. If they are concerned, they should file a formal complaint with HR.
HR should also not ignore retaliation accusations since lawful corporate actions might have a detrimental impact on employees. All workplace retaliation allegations must be investigated and decided objectively by the business.
The following are possible symptoms of retaliation:
· Hostility - Workplace hostility is never tolerated. It does, however, happen. There are various reasons why this happens, one of which is retaliation.
· Demotions - Leaders and managers can use demotion as a good strategy. When an employee is underperforming, a demotion may be warranted. It may, however, be retaliation if an employee is demoted without justification. Your organization should have a policy that describes when demotions are possible.
· Reductions in Remuneration or Benefits - Demotion may be accompanied by a salary decrease or the termination of benefits. It can similarly happen when a company goes through financial difficulties or reorganization. On the other hand, salary reductions must be justified, and a policy should be in place that explains why they are essential. Retaliation may be the root if there are no valid reasons or a consistently enforced policy.
· Reassignment - Reassignment might be innocuous in and of itself. It's not so much about the choice but why it was made. Retaliation occurs when an employee is unjustifiably transferred to a different team or location, regardless of whether the work or income remains the same.
· Termination - Termination is the most severe form of retaliation. Employers can terminate an employee's employment relationship at any time, with or without cause. However, employers must be accountable for implementing this agreement to safeguard the company from wrongful termination lawsuits.
How to prevent retaliation in the workplace
The greatest strategy to combat workplace retaliation is to avoid it in the first place. Defending such accusations is expensive and time-consuming and may damage the company's public image. To assist your company in preventing retaliation lawsuits, follow these steps:
1. Create policies in writing
Develop a documented anti-retaliation policy and instructions for reporting and investigating retaliation.
Employees must have access to the policy and standards. You might, for example, post them on the company's notice boards or employee handbooks.
2. Provide training
All staff should be aware of these rules and procedures.
Your staff should understand what workplace retaliation is and why it occurs. They must also recognize that not all unfavourable or unpleasant situations are retaliation or workplace discrimination.
Leadership and managers require extensive training in spotting and preventing workplace retaliation, legal obligations and consequences, and addressing employee complaints. Inform the supervisors that all disciplinary meetings must be reported to HR.
Retaliation allegations must be recognized and managed by HR employees. They should also be highly explicit about these accusations' reporting and investigation procedures.
3. Create a retaliatory inquiry mechanism in the workplace.
Your workplace retaliation investigation process should identify precise strategies that your firm and HR department routinely follow when reviewing retaliation accusations. You can guarantee that you don't miss any steps in the procedure this way.
4. Keep track of everything.
Positive behaviors, remarks, and accomplishments are equally as significant in deciding whether or not retaliation charges are genuine. This includes meeting specifics, achievements, acknowledgment, and warnings. Unfortunately, many organizations have a propensity to chronicle more of the negative than the positive.
5. Pay notice to any differences.
For example, a particular individual may receive bad performance and unfavorable evaluations from one boss while being rated as a great performer.
6. Maintain strict secrecy
When an employee meets with HR, ensure their disclosed information is kept private. Assure the employee that their complaint will not be used against them. Whistleblower protection should also be available at your company.
7. Encourage staff to speak up.
If you want your workers to speak out when they believe they are being retaliated against or witness retaliation, leaders and HR must create a culture of trust.
Did you know that employees frequently neglect to report wrongdoing because they fear retaliation? Building a culture of trust within your business will enable people to speak up but will also aid in establishing a more ethical culture.
8. Empower HR to make the right decisions.
Employees in positions of authority and influence are frequently targeted for retaliation claims. As a result, HR must maintain objectivity and collaborate closely with the legal department and employment lawyers.
When retaliation or discrimination accusations are filed and confirmed valid, the HR department must have some autonomy in making judgments.
HR should be business partners, not puppets or pawns of the leadership. Leaders must foster an environment in which HR feels empowered and free to do the right thing following labor laws and company standards. Employees lose faith in HR when it becomes a pawn or puppet.
Yolanda Chimonyo is a Strategy and Performance Management Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a management and human resources consulting firm.
Phone +263 242 481946-48/481950
Email: [email protected]
Visit our website at www.ipcconsultants.com
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