Microaggressions are everyday slights, insults or invalidations that occur when someone becomes targeted because of their race, gender, religion, disability or other identifying characteristic. These microaggressions, unfortunately, happen in the workplace both intentionally and unintentionally. Examples of microaggressions include racial slurs, derogatory comments about someone’s gender or assumptions about someone’s abilities based on their identity.
These seemingly small actions or comments can significantly impact employees’ mental health and productivity.
Exposure to microaggressions can lead to increased stress, anxiety and depression, lower self-esteem and feelings of isolation due to the feeling of constantly being judged or discriminated against. The constant stress of microaggressions can also affect an employee’s physical health, leading to stomach problems, headaches and sleep disturbances.
The costs of microaggressions
In addition to the negative impact on mental health, microaggressions can directly impact an employee’s productivity at work. When an employee is constantly exposed to microaggressions, they may have difficulty focusing on their work and may feel less motivated to complete tasks. This can lead to decreased productivity, decreased job satisfaction and increased absenteeism, which can negatively impact the company’s overall success.
Addressing workplace microaggressions
It is essential to create a workplace culture that remains inclusive and welcoming to all employees. Companies can take the following steps to address microaggressions in the workplace:
- Provide training on diversity and inclusion to all employees.
- Have a confidential and safe way for employees to report microaggressions.
- Take all reports seriously and follow through with appropriate action.
- Foster an open and inclusive workplace culture.
Overall, microaggressions may seem small, but they can significantly impact an employee’s mental health and productivity.