Bad Language in the Workplace

Foul language seems to be an increasing problem in all aspects of life, but especially the workplace. With a new generation of Internet loving, censorship opposed young people entering the workforce, foul language in the workplace is something HR people should be aware of. What twenty-somethings consider vernacular, can be considered offensive, hostile or worse by more traditional employees. It’s important that we as HR professionals can spot the offenders and deal with them accordingly.

Young people, throughout the generations have been the worst offenders when it comes to slang and foul language in general. What may seem like “no big deal” or just business as usual for young people, can come off as immature and down-right offensive to other more conservative workers. It’s the HR persons job to put a policy in place, or at least administer a verbal warning, so the more foul-mouthed employees know for certain that bad-language is not professional, and not tolerated. If the dirtiest mouthed at the office understand that swearing is not acceptable, then they can be disciplined accordingly when they slip up.

Swearing in the workplace can create a hostile environment. While it may not be intentional, screaming a slue of angry cuss words at your computer, can cause everyone around you to feel uncomfortable, and worse victimized. Even though the hostility is directed at an inanimate object, it was still observed by everyone in the office, and it is inevitable that people will assume you are angry in general and feel as though they have to be careful around you. This isn’t fair for anyone, and shouldn’t be considered acceptable. Everyone has bad days, and if it’s an isolated incident, then it should be dealt with accordingly. If angry cuss laden tirades are normal behavior for an employee, perhaps its time to decide on a course of serious disciplinary action for them.

Another potentially more serious threat of offensive language in the workplace, is harassment. If one employee warns another that their language is offending them, and asks them to stop, any bad language past that could be considered harassment. Ad into the mix that many popular cuss-phrases have sexual connotation and now you have sexual harassment. It is your job as an HR professional to deal with the offender, and help the offended feel the problem is being dealt with the best it can.

There are so many problems associated with bad-language in the office. It’s one of the many lifestyle accomodation’s we as HR professionals have to deal with. All of these problems are examples of why it’s good to have clear-cut policies in place for bad or offensive language. You can let the policy be the bad guy, and it’s clear to everyone you are just doing your job.

 

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Aaron

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