How To Deal With Office Creeps
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So the first week of 2018 is already upon us (hi January!) and for most of us, that means that this week will be our first week back to work and back to reality following the festivities of Christmas and New Year.
Like a lot of people, I tend to struggle with low mood in the first few weeks of January and I rely heavily on the people I work with, not only to help me stay motivated and perform well, but to make day-to-day life bearable. January blues aside, who could cope with the stress, pressure and anxiety that work can bring without the support of colleagues? You rely on them and they rely on you. It’s just how it goes, right? It’s the cheerful banter, camaraderie and the sense that they really do care about you that sees you through the difficult times and keeps you mindful of where your true passion lies. Even when you feel like going home and crawling underneath your duvet to binge watch Netflix.
That said, we could all do without those certain colleagues. You know the type, the ones who are always saying things that are just on the wrong side of appropriate. They’re a little too “handsy” at office parties, and come across creepy in ways that they no doubt think are charming. I mean, I’m not easily offended and I’m definitely not a political correctness warrior, but sometimes things can go a step too far and make you want to be sick a little in your mouth 🙃
You may not feel confident confronting inappropriate behavior at work but it’s important that you do (even if they take place while they’re drunk), especially in light of the sexual harassment allegations flooding the news recently.
Bring it to their attention
It’s always possible that your colleague is not aware of the ways their non-specific creepiness is affecting you or the dynamic of the workplace. If you feel that you know them well enough, ask them if they’re aware of the effects of their behaviour. They may be mortified and apologise profusely, they may get mad and act as though they’ve done nothing wrong or they may even act as though this is a fun game in which you’re both participating.
Whatever the outcome, it’s always best to speak to the person in question directly before taking any other steps.
Speak to your line manager
If speaking to your colleague hasn’t made a difference to their behaviour and you still feel uncomfortable, then you should raise the issue with your (or your colleague’s) direct line manager. It’s usually a good idea to do this before approaching HR if you feel comfortable to do so, as they may be able to speak to the person in question first. This could be enough to put an end to the behaviour alone. If it isn’t, then your line manager should be able to guide you through the process of reporting the case to HR.
If speaking to your line manager isn’t an option or it doesn’t do the trick, then you should consider speaking to your HR representative yourself. Nobody should be made to feel uncomfortable at work – we spend most of our lives there after all.
Make a complaint to HR
Making a complaint against a colleague is a potentially nerve wracking experience. You may talk yourself out of it or you may even blame yourself. However, remember that this person’s behavior is not only making you feel uneasy, but it’s likely distracting you from your daily duties and your ability to do your job.
Depending on the seriousness of the behaviour you’re reporting, it might be worth familiarising yourself with your company’s HR policies or reach out to any external employment law services your workplace may use. As unfortunate as it might be, you will need to record instances of inappropriate behaviour with detail and be as specific as possible including times and dates. If inappropriate, offensive or explicit comments were made, try to recall exactly what was said and how. If there was an instance of inappropriate touching you will have to indicate where and how. You should also ask any witnesses if they would be willing to confirm your side of the story.
You should never be made to feel uncomfortable in the workplace and you certainly shouldn’t be afraid to speak up. If something doesn’t feel right, tell that person how their actions made you feel. If things don’t improve, speak to your line manager or to HR. It’s the right thing to do! 🤗