Ever since the 1990s, we’ve been sold the many benefits of diversity. We know that having the most diverse mix of people in our organisation makes us able to be more creative, spot opportunities and solve problems – not to mention making us more desirable as employers and boosting our public profile.
Being manhandled into taxis, accused of being a fire hazard, treated like a child when you’ve got a PhD and told to clean your ears out are just some examples of the frustrating and inappropriate behaviour that disabled customers, employees and service users continue to experience. But if silly behaviour is the problem, then could laughter be the solution?
Extensive research has shown that in terms of intellectual capabilities, there are no significant differences between men and women. Yet it’s a fact that certain professions are overwhelmingly dominated by one gender or the other and that women are under-represented in senior roles.
Not having that awkward chat early on can lead to big problems down the line – particularly when it comes to issues with someone’s performance or behaviour. If you haven’t made your expectations clear, it can damage a claim defence in an employment tribunal case, so don’t beat about the bush and always tackle issues sooner rather than later.
Business should be investing in this area because they’re going to get a return. Businesses don’t engage with this subject for reasons to do with charitable giving or altruism. The investment pays back because you’re accessing talent. You’re enhancing productivity, you’re producing products and services that more people want and more people are able to use.
We all enjoy a bit of work banter from time to time. Sharing humour is a great way of getting to know each other at work, lightening the mood and boosting morale – but inappropriate jokes and remarks can be offensive and discriminatory and can leave people feeling hurt, humiliated and excluded.
Poor mental health at work is one of the biggest threats to businesses and organisations today. It costs UK employers billions every year in sickness absence, reduced productivity and staff recruitment and takes a terrible toll on individuals’ well-being – yet a huge number of employers are unsure of how to approach the problem and for many it remains a taboo subject.
Working through lunch every day might impress the boss, but sooner or later it’s going to take its toll, creating an opportunity for unnecessary workplace stress. And it’s not just holidays and lunch-breaks that we’re talking about, either – even short screen breaks are essential for re-charging your batteries and giving you a much-needed chance to rest and recuperate.
Recent research suggests that the costs of poor work behaviour in terms of dysfunctional working relationships, low productivity, employment disputes and absence due to stress are huge – and that it’s high time we started taking problem work behaviour seriously.