For purposes of the policy, define improper language as: “Unwanted, deliberate, and repeated profanity, along with vulgar, insulting, abusive, or crude language.” Make it clear that the use of such language is offensive and can result in complaints of harassment—even sexual harassment. If those complaints arise, they must be handled as expeditiously and thoroughly as harassment is handled. Be very specific in the policy about the steps of the disciplinary process that will be followed, up to and including termination.
A competent, stable, well led workforce is essential to achieving a competitive advantage and business success. The image of competence that you want to present to your customers can be seriously weakened by the presence of foul language in the workplace. What will your customers think when they are exposed to it? What will they think of your team when they hear it? What will they think of your leadership when they hear it in your presence or, worse yet, hear it from you?
An uncomfortable workplace will also impact the stability of your staff. You are trying to build a team with people from diverse backgrounds. You spend a lot of money on training and teambuilding. The last thing you want is your star employee coming to you and saying that she has to leave because she can’t live with the culture. Retention of key employees is dependent on your business being an employer of choice. That demands an environment where employees want to work.
Leadership is critical to business success. Leaders create a vision of the future and develop and foster a culture that is focused on that vision. That should be a culture of professionalism that understands the value of satisfying the internal customers. It should include the need for mutual respect for each other and make it clear that there is no room for any improper conduct in the workplace. Emphasize that culture at all times and take the steps to eliminate any improper conduct as soon as it occurs.