Business English | Problems at Work

Audio Episode

What is this episode about?

Learn how to talk about problems at work in this new Business English episode from English Plus Podcast. We will talk about discrimination, bullying, harassment and health and safety problem.

Support on Patreon



I am using an automatic transcript service as it is not possible for me to do it on my own and I cannot afford human transcription at the moment. The service claims to have about 95% accuracy, which means there will still be some mistakes, so my apologies for having a less than perfect transcript, but I hope I can afford human transcription soon and I will solve this problem. However, the service is pretty good, and the transcript is almost perfect.


Welcome to a new episode from English plus podcast. Today’s episode is about business English. We will talk about a very important topic and that is problems at work. Of course, there are a lot of problems at work and there might be too many to talk about in just one episode. So we will focus on three of the most common problems or maybe the most important problems that people may face at work.

[00:00:32] We will talk about discrimination. We will talk about bullying and harassment, and we will talk about health and safety. Now, remember this episode is about business English. So we’re not actually discussing these problems and maybe suggesting solutions to these problems, but mainly we are focusing on learning how to talk about these problems, what the language we need to talk about these problems now.

[00:00:58] I cannot stress enough that it is very important not to tolerate any of these problems. If you ever face one of these problems we’re talking about, you should speak out. You should never be okay with these things because these things are not only against the law, but these things are immoral and they should never happen to anyone.

[00:01:17] But again, we’re here, we’re English plus we’re talking about the language. So it is important from our perspective for you to learn how to talk about these problems, use the right words to talk about these problems. So let’s start with the very first problem and that is discrimination. What does that mean?

[00:01:36] The word discrimination, which is by the way, D I S C R I M I N a T I O N. Discrimination. What does that mean? When we say people are discriminated against. We use this form to talk about that you are discriminated against. He is discriminated against. She is discriminated against. What does that mean? If people are treated differently from each other in an unfair way, they are discriminated against.

[00:02:04] Now here. I want you to remember a very important thing. We’re not saying it is wrong to treat people differently in companies based on merit. Let’s say for example, some people give a lot to the company and they are given special treatment. That is okay, because that is based on merit, not based on the color of your skin or based on where you are from or based on whether you’re a man or a woman.

[00:02:28] This is the unfair way of treating people differently, treating people differently just because they are of a different color or they come from a different country or because of some age issue or some sex issue, whether a man or a woman, if a woman, for example, is unfairly treated just because she is a woman.

[00:02:48] That means she is a victim of sex discrimination. And here again, let me remind you, if you want to use the verb itself, you can say that a person is discriminated against. You can talk about your problem and say, I was discriminated against at work because I was of this color because I come from this country because I’m a woman because I’m whatever.

[00:03:11] So you can use this expression to talk about discrimination and to talk about different types of discrimination. We have racial discrimination when the reason of discrimination is race. We have sex discrimination. If the reason why the discrimination happens, because we’re talking about a woman she’s treated unfairly, just because she’s a woman and that’s so wrong again, let me remind you.

[00:03:35] All of the problems I’m talking about are wrong and they are not acceptable. We cannot say that some of them are okay. And some of them are not, no, all of them, at least from my perspective, they are unacceptable. You need to talk about them. That’s the importance of learning, how to talk about them in a correct way.

[00:03:52] So let’s continue talking about racial discrimination. If someone is treated unfairly because of their race. They are a victim of racial discrimination or for short, we say racism, offensive remarks about someone’s race are racist and the person making them is a racist. So the word racist can be used both as a noun.

[00:04:14] When we call someone a racist. And can be used as an adjective when we describe offensive remarks about someone’s race, these are racist. So can be used as an adjective or as a noun. And remember we say racial discrimination or for short, we say racism. So here we have racial discrimination, racism, racist, both as an adjective and as a noun that we can use to describe this type of discrimination.

[00:04:41] Now, let’s talk about something else. Something a little bit positive. We have what we call equal opportunities, positive discrimination or affirmative action. Now these three expressions are kind of the same. This is when help is given in education and employment to groups who were previously discriminated against now for equal opportunities that is used specially in British English.

[00:05:06] For positive discrimination that is used both in British and American English, but for affirmative action that is used only in American English. So they are kind of the same, but again, equal opportunities. That’s British English, affirmative action. That’s American English, positive discrimination that is used in both.

[00:05:25] And now to continue talking about the positive sides, some companies have a dignity at work policy covering all the issues we talked about here in discrimination covering the things that employees are not supposed to or must not do at work. That’s what we call dignity at work policy. Now, you might be given this policy at the beginning of your employment in a company.

[00:05:49] So just in case you don’t know that these things are not okay at work where they’re not okay at all, not only at work, but at least at work, this is the place where the company is responsible for the behavior of, of its employees. So they may have this dignity at work policy. They might give it to new employees so that you have to read these things and know that these things are not tolerable.

[00:06:14] The company will not tolerate any kind of discrimination. If you happen to take action in anything that has to do with discrimination of any type, you will be fired, for example. So that is the first big problem or the first major problem that we can talk about when it comes to problems at work. What about the second problem that is bullying and harassment?

[00:06:37] Well, I’m not saying that bullying and harassment are less serious than discrimination. It is as serious as discrimination and the effects can be as devastating or even more now. But first let’s talk about what bullying is and what harassment is. Now if someone such as a manager bullies an employee, they use their position of power to hurt or threaten the employee.

[00:07:01] Someone who does this is a bully and the bullying can often be verbal. It doesn’t always have to be physical. Of course now, physical that is more often at schools when we talk about companies. And remember this episode is about business English. So we’re focusing more on bullying at companies, not in schools.

[00:07:18] When we talk about bullying at companies, most probably the bullying is verbal, but here, let me remind you again. Let’s just talk again about what bullying means. Remember if you bully someone that means you use your position of power to hurt or threatened. This employee. Now, this especially happens with a manager and an employee, and there are people like that in all the companies where you want to work.

[00:07:44] All you have to do is stand up to them because they are definitely breaking the dignity at work policy or any kind of policies that this company has. And if the company is okay with bullying, take my advice and leave the company because that’s not where you want to stay for the next 10 years or even the rest of your life.

[00:08:04] Anyway, this is bullying, but remember the verb is to bully. So here we said, if someone such as a manager bullies an employee, so that is a verb and we use the word bully as a noun. So we say someone who does, this is a bully. He is a bully. I would love to say she is a bully, but to be honest, 99% of the times, the bully is a man.

[00:08:27] Women can be bullies, of course, but it’s not as common as it is with men. So we talked about bullying. Let’s talk about harassment. Now harassment is more dangerous and it is kind of linked to bullying because usually the person who does that is using his place of power. Now, I, I don’t want to sound like I’m just saying that only men do that, but mostly men do that.

[00:08:51] But harassment, as I said, is a serious problem. Even more serious than bullying, especially when we talk about sexual harassment. That is when an employee behaves sexually towards another, in a way that they find unwelcome and unacceptable. And here, of course, we’re not talking about relationships between employees, if they happen to work in the same place, if it is consensual, there’s no problem.

[00:09:14] Of course, but here, I’m talking about a person who tries to force himself on another person. And it happens usually kind of like bullying a person who has some power who tries to sexually harass a person who has less power in the company that is the most common form of sexual harassment, which is a terrible thing to have in a company and a terrible thing to not talk about in public.

[00:09:41] There is no way in the world. You should tolerate something like this, whether you are an employee, whether this happens to you or whether you see it happen to someone else, or if you just know that it is happening in the company and nobody’s talking about it. I know that might sound a little bit too much, but don’t be afraid to lose your job, lose your job now, and don’t lose your self-respect in the future.

[00:10:03] So, but again, it’s business English, it’s English. We’re not talking about the problems and how to solve them. This is not what we are here to do. Let’s remember the word we use to describe this is sexual harassment and harassment, by the way, is spelled H a R a S S M E N T. And the verb. If you want to use it as a verb, you use harass H a R a S S.

[00:10:28] Now, finally, we come to the last set of problems at work and these have to do with health and safety. Now, before we talk about these, let me remind you that you can find a link in the description of the episode that will take you to our website English plus You will find the transcript of the episode there, and you will find exercises that will help you improve your English.

[00:10:47] So take the link and take your English with it to the next level. And there’s also another link in the description of the episode that will take you to our Patreon page. I will have to say that this is the only way we can go on. If you really want our podcast to go on and you don’t want us to stop for any stupid financial reason, become our patron and help us continue creating episodes for you and for everybody else who’s using this.

[00:11:13] I’m not saying there is a red alert for us yet, but with your support, we hope we never have it. So take the link, go to our Patreon page and become a patron of English plus podcast. Help us create more content and reach more people. Now let’s move back and talk about the last set of problems that I told you about.

[00:11:30] We talked first about discrimination. We then talked about bullying and harassment. Now let’s talk about the final set of problems and these problems are related to health and safety. Now, health and safety issues for people at work contribute to a bad working environment. When you have health and safety issues, then the working environment is bad.

[00:11:50] When you don’t have health and safety issues and you have a good working environment and you should all aspire to work in a place that has a good working environment, not a bad one. Now the government sends officials called health and safety inspectors to make sure that factories and offices are safe, places to work.

[00:12:10] They check what companies are doing in areas like passive smoking. This might be a problem. Are you allowing smokers to smoke indoors? And that creates the problem of passive smoking. Others are affected by the smoking. So if your company allows smoking indoors, that is a problem. That’s a problem, especially for those who don’t smoke.

[00:12:30] And another common problem that is related to health and safety is repetitive strain, injury, or RSI. Now that happens when you do the same thing over and over, and you don’t take enough breaks to rest your arms or legs or whatever. Now, maybe that happens a lot with the wrist and fingers, especially with people who type a lot.

[00:12:51] And they don’t take a lot of breaks because they are not allowed to, that can cause repetitive strain injury. And that is the responsibility of the company to prevent. They should know exactly how long or the maximum time you should stay doing what you’re doing. And then you should take a break, not to have this repetitive strain injury or RSI, other problems that are related to health and safety are dangerous machinery.

[00:13:17] Now, of course, some machinery are dangerous anyway, because that’s the only way things can be done. But is the company taking precautions to protect the employees from the dangerous machinery? Can they do something about it and they’re not. So these are the questions, the health and safety inspectors ask, or they try to inspect when they go to companies and they see if they have any health and safety issues.

[00:13:42] Other things they inspect are hazardous substances, dangerous substances. If the company has any of these. And again, it is normal to have hazardous substances in some factories, in some businesses, but are all precautions taken to protect the employees from these hazardous substances? That’s the question.

[00:14:02] The health and safety inspectors ask. And then we have the fire hazards, the dangers of fire. Do they have all the precautions? Do they have enough fire extinguishers? Do they have a policy or a plan to evacuate the building in case of fire breaks out, something like that, all these questions are important to know, and these contribute to a good working environment or to a bad working environment.

[00:14:26] And then we have the problem of heating and air conditioning is the place where you work very hot or very cold, or both, depending on the season. Is there air conditioning at all? Or of course heating when it is too cold. If there isn’t, that also contributes to a bad working environment. And finally, there’s the first aid.

[00:14:45] What, if you cut yourself, what if some minor incident happens or even a major incident happens, but while you’re waiting for the ambulance to come, is there first aid that you can use to help this injured person until help arrives until real help, the ambulance ,the professionals arrive? Is there first aid in the company or not?

[00:15:05] These are all very important questions, health and safety inspectors ask, but it’s also your job to ask yourself when you work in a place. If they have these problems, it’s not always a sign that you should quit your job, of course not. But you might ask the management to provide some safety measures if they refuse to do so, then you can demand it.

[00:15:28] Or you can even file a complaint or worst case scenario. You should quit your job, maybe. Well, I’m not saying that that it’s easy to quit your job, maybe because I mentioned that a couple of times, I know it’s not easy to quit your job, but before even considering quitting your job, you should always think about speaking out loud and demand.

[00:15:46] What’s rightfully yours. That is important. And then of course there are labor unions or other offices or syndicates you can resort to, to complain and they may help you. If you have any of these problems anyway, to wrap it up, of course, we talked about dangerous machinery, hazardous substances. These can call industrial accidents.

[00:16:06] Now this is a word that I wanted to teach you about industrial accidents. When something happens to you. At work, especially if there are machinery, especially in a factory, we call these industrial accidents. And when these happen there might be compensation, a compensation can mean money or other benefits that someone receives after an injury caused by a work accident.

[00:16:31] Now, that being said, that’ll be everything I wanted to tell you about when it comes to problems at work. Remember we talked about bullying. We talked about harassment, discrimination and health and safety issues or problems at work. I hope you learned something new. The most important thing is not just learning words.

[00:16:49] I want you to learn how to talk about these things at work, to how to talk about these problems at work. I hope you don’t have any of these problems, of course, but if you have a problem like that and you want to talk about it, now you have the words you can use to talk about these problems at work. That being said, I’d like to thank you very much for listening to another episode from English plus podcast.

[00:17:10] This is your host, Danny. I will see you next time.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

<a href="" target="_self">Danny Ballan</a>

Danny Ballan


Danny is a podcaster, teacher, and writer. He worked in educational technology for over a decade. He creates daily podcasts, online courses, educational videos, educational games, and he also writes poetry, novels and music.

You may also Like

Business | Let’s Talk about The Working Environment

Business | Let’s Talk about The Working Environment

In this new Let’s Talk Business episode, our discussion will focus on the working environment and the well-being of employing in terms of the physical and social conditions of the working environment. Listen to this new Let’s Talk Business episode and learn more about the business working environment.

read more

Recent Posts

Old Habits Die Hard

Old Habits Die Hard

Breaking unhealthy habits, learning new skills – just why is change so difficult? Explore the meaning of “old habits die hard”, with insights into the science behind behavior, and the history of this relatable proverb.

read more


Follow Us

Pin It on Pinterest