When thinking about achievable New Year’s Resolutions for employees and employers this upcoming year, I remembered an event that took place this fall called “Snark Free Day.”
It was an idea conceived by a group of marketing professionals in hopes of building awareness of the increased incivility and snarky behavior all around us. They offered the challenge, “Can you go 24 hours without being snarky?” It’s an exercise we could all stand to try.
First, a quick fact: snark is actually a word formed from the combination of snide and remark. Snarky actions are cruel and sarcastic comments or gestures that may come across as funny but are actually just plain mean.
While this might seem obvious to most of us, snark is not okay. But, what do you do about snark in the workplace? We’ve all, at one point or another, experienced someone who is rude, abrasive and, frankly, nasty in the workplace. Employees in the State of Maine have the right to go to work without being subjected to harassment. Sometimes, comments that come across as rude, abrasive or mean are more than just “snarky” but are in fact unlawful.
No employee has to tolerate comments that are discriminatory in nature because of that employee’s race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Any employee who is subjected to these types of rude and harassing comments should report the negative conduct to their immediate supervisor.
Employers should take these complaints seriously. Snark can create a hostile workplace for everyone involved. The employer has a duty to investigate the complaint and take action. Employees have the right to work in a snark-free environment. There should be a policy in the workplace that prohibits those types of actions.
We should all check ourselves before we speak or respond to something. We each have the responsibility to create a civil society. So let’s together make our New Year’s resolution to lose the snark. For a better workplace, home life, and world. #losethesnark.
About the author: Karen Bilodeau is an attorney and partner at the workers’ rights law firm McTeague Higbee. She can be reached at email@example.com or at 207-725-5581.