In certain working environments, employees using profanity has the potential to offend customers and cause problems for your business. In others, swearing may be part of the way employees and even customers regularly communicate.
If you feel that profanity is having a negative impact on your workplace, take some time to consider your company culture and your employees. Think about whether it really matters in your environment. If you decide that it does and you feel that swearing needs to stop, here are some ways to encourage a change from your employees:
Create a Policy
If you don’t have rules about the use of profanity, it won’t seem fair to your employees if you discipline them for swearing. Set up a clear policy surrounding the use of profanity and communicate that to employees. Make it clear when profanity is acceptable and when it is not and share the reasons why when possible. If employees understand the rules and why they have been put into place, they are much more likely to follow them.
For a lot of people, swearing is an ingrained part of their daily language. Some of your employees may have difficulty changing their speech patterns and completely cutting out swearing overnight. Provide employees with warnings when profanity becomes inappropriate. Explain with clear examples what is not acceptable and why.
Like most behaviors in the workplace, it wouldn’t be fair to discipline or terminate an employee without providing warnings and giving the employee an opportunity to make a change. Make it clear what will happen if the employee chooses not to change their behavior and give adequate time for employees demonstrate improvement.
In extreme cases, profanity and vulgar language can reach a level where it could be considered harassment. Make sure your employees understand that, no matter what, they are expected to treat one another with respect, and if language becomes offensive, it will need to change.