How Eliminating Workplace Harassment Raises Productivity

Saudi Vision 2030 has the potential to make Saudi Arabia “an epicenter of trade and the gateway to the world,” according to Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Saudi Arabia has an ambitious economic plan to diversify its economy and expand international trade and investment opportunities. As Saudi Arabia expands its global reach and its companies locate new offices and facilities, it is essential that those companies and their leadership understand the different cultures and values of workplaces around the world. As Saudi Vision 2030 is implemented, it also is likely that some degree of social transformation will occur in Saudi Arabia. Workplace demographics within the country will change as well as the ways in which the workplace is organized and managed.

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The manner in which supervisors treat employees, and employees treat each other, can have a tremendous impact on productivity. When employees enjoy coming to work they will work harder, be more productive, and they will be more loyal. That will come as no surprise to anyone. As we know, loyalty is particularly important. There often are significant costs associated with identifying, hiring, and training new employees. When don’t employees enjoy coming to work? When they are being harassed.

Workplace harassment can be extraordinarily destructive. Not only can it reduce productivity, it also can cause valuable employees to seek employment elsewhere. Cultural values are important to consider when managing employees. But it will be interesting for us to explore in this webinar whether certain values are universal.

We should be able to agree that there are some types of behavior that should concern employers no matter where we are located. If severe or pervasive unwelcome conduct is directed at an employee because of his race or nationality, for example, and that employee’s productivity is being negatively affected, then it seems reasonable that an employer should intervene to halt the conduct. But we need to be able to determine whether the conduct was truly unwelcome. We also need to determine whether the conduct was negatively affecting this specific employee who may have engaged in similar conduct him or herself on other occasions. And it also seems reasonable that we should be especially concerned when a supervisor or manager allegedly is harassing an employee. A supervisor or manager may have significant control over the employee’s wages or working conditions. Perhaps we can agree on certain preemptive measures that employers can take to prevent damaging harassment and the workplace rules that appear workable. We need to make certain that ordinary, productive interactions between employees are not eliminated, however, because those workplace rules are too strict. These are only a few of the issues concerning workplace harassment that we will be able to address during our webinar.

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