Unfortunately, most organisations in Kenya lack a proactive approach to their sexual harassment policy; some do not sensitise their employees on workplace sexual harassment.
In fact, most ‘fresh off the boat’ employees are usually at a loss of how to react when they encounter sexual advances from fellow colleagues, be it an imposed hug, suggestive ogling or outright request for sex. The next move is deciding how to deal with the issue.
Some ignore the obnoxious colleague and pray that he or she will get bored soon enough. Others confide in a trusted colleague who can quietly tell off the grabby employee on the victim’s behalf — quietly because most new employees will not want to create a scene right in the middle of their orientation.
“Have you met Sally…”
“Sally… the new employee who slapped Richard by the water cooler. Oh she is feisty!”
Nobody wants to be talked about like that.
There is the option of going to the human resource managers or officers of course, but what happens when the head of HR is the one who claims to be having endless sleepless nights courtesy of your well-rounded bum?
What if both parties are consenting and it is a matter of willing buyer willing seller?
Still no…unless it is just the two of you running the company. As long as there are other employees in the organisation, it is a bad idea to have sexual relations with a fellow colleague and here are six reasons why:
Loss of objectivity and clouded judgement in decision making. Most of our decisions are drawn from perceptions and it is easy to be tolerant of mediocre work if it comes with a promise of mind-shattering orgasms. Eventually, such lapses in judgement end up causing more harm than good, affecting the entire company.
Sexual relations with co-workers also blurs the professionalism line making it very difficult to give or take criticism at the work place. A suggestion that would have been readily taken as constructive criticism prior to the relationship now becomes a personal attack, often flagged with many undertones of anger and sometimes insubordination that undermines a conducive work environment.
Promotes favouritism that threatens team work. Once you start relating beyond professionalism with a fellow colleague, chances are you will start playing favourites which will hurt the rest of the team and create bad blood. It gets worse when these relationships are cross-tiered and come with benefits such as extra pay and undeserved promotions.
For example, when a boss chooses to engage in such relations with one of the employees, they open an opportunity — either willingly or coerced such as through blackmail — to offer something in exchange. Out here in the streets it is said, “Scratch my back I scratch yours.”
Lowers productivity. Strong feelings of attraction can tamper with employees’ concentration and in effect lower their performance at work, dragging behind the rest of the team. Some love-struck colleagues have been known to steal a few hours of company time to indulge in a tangle or two.
Flirting in itself can lead to gross waste of company time as your colleague crush camps at your desk for idle chatter just because they miss seeing your dental formula or something along those lines.
Strains relationships with employees of the opposite sex. Sometimes, sexual relations at work result in involved parties feeling entitled and overly protective of each other.
However, since an organisation has different departments that work together to achieve the set goals, there is no way of shielding him or her from other colleagues as long as you all have tasks to accomplish.
In the end, the partners end up stewing in jealousy which often spills over to unsuspecting colleagues, creating a very messy work environment.
Weighs on your conscious. Most organisations discourage workplace romance and dating primarily because of the aforementioned reasons. Therefore, those who decide that the risk to swim against the flow is worth it have to do so discreetly.
The sneaking around and fear of being caught gnaws on the conscience of parties involved and subconsciously drains them of energy that would have been put into better use. It also sparks suspicion of their fellow colleagues fearing that they could be ratted out.
I know of a couple who came clean about their relationship and HR advised that one of them looks for an alternative job. Who is willing to start job hunting in this economy?
No place to hide. The soulful Enrique Iglesias in one of his best tracks “Escape” sings: You can run, you can hide, but you can’t escape my love.
That is exactly what happens when you start a relationship with your colleague. We spend an average of eight hours — the bulk of the day — at the workplace so you can be assured that he or she will be constantly in your face.
Considering most of these relationships are mere flings, it gets worn out after a while. Usually went a fling loses its kick, you simply cut off communication and move on with your life. But how do you cut off links with your personal assistant who is required, as per their job description, to be constantly by your side? No escape.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.