From printer jams to project misses, there are times when we all reach the breaking point. It’s easy to resort to cursing in the moment of frustration. Unfortunately, profanity often leads to a reduction in productivity and decreased employee morale. The best companies work hard to eliminate profanity in the workplace.
It’s All About Perception
Profanity influences how investors, managers and other business leaders view not only the employees, but also the workplace as a whole. It gives the impression that the workplace may be hostile or that the business owners and managers don’t care.
Business owners who can’t control their own language or their employee’s language can end up losing key players, capital investment and strategic deals. Even if it’s a rare occurrence, turning a blind eye can lead to harassment lawsuits especially if the person using profanity is in an influential position.
Responding to Profanity in the Workplace
As a business owner, you need to carefully consider how you respond to profanity in your workplace. First, look inward to assess your own language. Do you set a positive example for others to follow? If not, consider working on adjusting your language.
If profanity comes from a specific business unit, try to identify if there’s something about the team or their tasks that cause it. If you can isolate the problem to a specific individual or stressful situation, you have a better chance of eliminating the problem.
Be strategic in your approach and get an outside perspective or talk to someone who has expertise in human resources. Coming down too hard on personnel can result in legal issues. In some cases, you may find yourself dealing with cursing employees who claim that they’re engaging in activity that’s protected by the first amendment or the National Labor Relations Act. As shocking as it seems, you wouldn’t be the first business owner to hear that excuse. You must take steps to protect your business.
Make sure that you have a section in your employee handbook that specifically addresses profanity, along with discrimination and sexual harassment. Then create and enforce a zero tolerance policy and provide training for help for those who need it. It will take effort. But if you enforce your stance on profanity, you’ll eliminate it over time.
Hire For Fit
Before hiring someone, consider candidates that have a professional demeanor. This may mean that you pass on the most qualified applicant. You want someone who will represent your business in the best possible light. Hiring someone who’s not a fit can cost your company more in the long run.
What you don’t know can hurt you. At the end of the day, there’s no room for offensive language in your business. Although it’s common to let our temper get the best of us, the key is to not make it a habit. Words are powerful. Don’t let them ruin what you worked so hard to build.