How to Handle a Hostile Work Environment within Your Organization

Actual Comments on Why Employees Leave:

“For the two years prior to being terminated, I feel I was harassed and working in a hostile environment. My manager embellished situations, wrote me up several times without thoroughly investigating, eventually terminating my employment. Every time my manager wrote me up I begged her to tell me what to do differently. Her reply was “just keep doing what you’re doing”. I went to someone for help and they suggested I go to the CEO. I was afraid I would definitely lose my job if I did that.”

The Solution

The words “hostile work environment” are words that all employers need to take very seriously and respond to quickly through a workplace investigation. A simple definition of a hostile work environment is when an employee experiences workplace harassment and has concerns/fears because of the offensive, intimidating, or oppressive environment created by the harasser.

Organizations cannot assume that employees who voice concerns of hostile work environments are overly emotional, taking things a bit too seriously, or are ticked off at their managers. These are allegations that must be taken seriously in today’s litigious environment. Employers should have airtight policies and procedures dealing with claims of hostile environments, harassment, discrimination, etc. and should include procedures that employees must follow if they feel there is a hostile work environment.

So what does this all have to do with turnover? There are many implications of situations such as that described above. If it is determined there is a hostile environment, it is likely the amount of individuals affected goes beyond just the person above who was terminated. No one wants to be the victim of a hostile work environment but equally important is that other employees who witness the hostility do not want to work in an organization that allows this type of behavior.

In this day of social media, potential employees can find out a great deal about employers by going to websites such as It offers an inside look at jobs and companies with information posted by current and past employees, job seekers, and sometimes the companies themselves.

The bottom line is that the work environment is very important as it relates to attraction, retention, and employee engagement overall. ExitRight, our proprietary exit interview software program, provides all the tools necessary to help employers identify potential hot spots.

(This blog post brought to you by HSD Metrics, an exit interview company that helps companies reduce employee turnover by providing automated reference checking, exit interviews, and by measuring employee retention. The comments from exiting employees that are featured in this blog are collected from actual exit interviews conducted using ExitRight, HSD’s exit interviewing service. Because we place the privacy of our clients at the top of our priority list; the names of all involved parties are kept completely confidential. Check our blog often for posts like this, to reduce employee turnover within your organization. If you are interested in learning more, contact us today.)