Symptoms and prevention

Offensive behaviour, including bullying and sexual harassment, has consequences both for the individual exposed to this behaviour, and for the workplace.

Symptoms: What to look for

Consequences and visible signs in the individual exposed to offensive behaviour, including bullying and sexual harassment may be:

  • Seems nervous or insecure when tasks are to be discussed
  • Starts making mistakes in his/her work or is very slow
  • Isolates himself/herself and doesn’t participate in social events
  • Is often absent/home sick
  • Seems depressed and without energy
  • Seems irritable and short-tempered.

Consequences and signs in the workplace that may be the cause:

  • Problems and conflicts are not addressed and remain unresolved.
  • Increased staff turnover; several people apply for jobs elsewhere.
  • Increased absence due to sickness for the individuals being offended/bullied/harassed.
  • Silence from the staff when psychosocial working conditions are on the agenda.
  • Complaints or negative statements about individuals or groups.
  • Lack of willingness to report mistakes and negligence at work.
  • Falling productivity and efficiency.


The employer must prevent offensive behaviour at the workplace, including bullying and sexual harassment.

As prevention, the employer can clearly express in a written policy that offensive behaviour is unacceptable. Moreover, it’s a good idea to write down clear procedures for handling any questions about offensive behaviour.

In specific cases, the management and the employees, or possibly the health and safety organisation, can discuss specific measures to deal with the situation and to prevent repetitions.

Last revised at 04. July 2023