It is a rare thing that the results of a research project actually generate surprise or even intrigue. But a recent research project conducted by the University of East Anglia seems to have done both.
The research showed that swearing at work will boost team spirit among staff, allowing them to express their feelings better. So are we to encourage foul-mouthed loutishness in the office?
Well some would say no because the penalties at risk would outweigh any benefit. Opposition groups have contested the research saying that to encourage swearing in the workplace could actually put employers at risk of employment tribunals.
Croner, a specialist in human resources, believes that encouraging this behaviour will have a far more detrimental effect than any benefit that it generates.
In fact, the use of swearing can be very offensive and could be seen by others in the workplace as bullying or sexual or racial discrimination - a situation that could see employers facing claims under a whole host of legislation which protects employees from unfair treatment in the workplace.
Alan Phillips, business support helpline manager with Croner, said, "Although we are not advising employers to alienate their staff by coming down hard on harmless loose-lipped banter, employers should be discouraging, rather than promoting, swearing throughout their workforce as it could become the cause of grievances from employees that feel discriminated against because of a racial slur or offensive swear words.
"Encouraging a blanket no swearing policy is much easier to implement and would also ensure that no level of the workforce feels it's being treated differently. We would always advise putting 'inclusive' policies in place, whether prohibitive or permissive, when it comes to employment issues.
"After all, someone else's 'conversational' swear word could be a vulgar swear word to someone else, and other people's values need to be respected in the work environment."
So do we want to vent frustration by swearing or do we need to find a better way. Perhaps the old smoking room could be converted to a swearing room?
If you work in a stressful and high-pressured working environment rather than going down the swearing route maybe try combating the stress in other ways. For advice on how to do this we have a local support group in Brighton that is on call and happy to advise.
For further information contact:
Louise Sigfrid Workplace Health Development Adviser
Brighton & Hove City Council
Tel: 01273 295347
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