Unmasking the hidden: Subtle signs of workplace harassment

On Behalf of | May 18, 2023 | Harassment At Work

Workplace harassment often lurks beneath the surface, hidden within seemingly innocuous actions or comments. We all recognize the more blatant forms such as inappropriate physical contact or explicit offensive remarks, but the subtler forms can inflict similar damage, creating an uncomfortable, if not hostile, work environment.

It is very important to understand these insidious forms of harassment. Learn about some of these lesser-known yet harmful signs of workplace harassment that may escape immediate attention.

Persistent unnecessary criticism

Repeated, unnecessary criticism or undermining of your work is a subtle sign of workplace harassment. This may present as relentless negative feedback, even when your performance meets or exceeds standards. Such criticism often surpasses the realm of constructive feedback, serving instead to belittle you or your work.

Consistent exclusion or isolation

Consistent exclusion or isolation can also indicate subtle harassment. You might find that you are not included in meetings, email chains or social gatherings where your peers are present. Such isolation can serve as a manipulative tactic to marginalize you within the team or organization.

Intrusions into personal space and time

Intrusions into your personal space or time can signal harassment. This could include colleagues or supervisors who insist on discussing work-related matters outside of office hours or those who infringe on your personal space without a valid reason.

Offensive remarks disguised as humor

Offensive comments or jokes disguised as harmless banter can also be a form of harassment. These comments may relate to your race, gender, religion or personal life and can cause discomfort or distress. This form of harassment is often overlooked, as it is usually passed off as humor.

Unreasonable work demands

Assigning consistently excessive workloads or setting unachievable targets can also signal workplace harassment. This often occurs under the pretense of pushing employees to achieve more, but it can lead to significant stress and burnout.

By recognizing these subtle signs, we take the first step toward addressing workplace harassment. Both organizations and individuals must proactively address these issues to create a respectful and inclusive work environment.