The Hidden Cost of Microaggressions in the Workplace: How Digital Coaching Can Help

CoachHub · 28 February 2023 · 4 min read

Contrary to popular belief, most people are very intuitive. They interpret subliminal messages faster than you’d expect, even when you aren’t consciously communicating your thoughts. This is why it’s very easy for workers to pick up on microaggressions from other workers.

Microaggressions can come in different ways but they ultimately make the subject feel unwanted, or like the butt of a joke. Microaggressions in the workplace have a way of planting divides and unspoken issues among workers. This is why it is important to be conscious of one’s conduct in the workplace. It is also necessary for companies to introduce programs that promote inclusion among workers.

These programs help to facilitate diversity and acceptance among workers of different age groups, classes, gender, race or sexual orientation.

The thing about microaggressions is that they often leave one party feeling uncomfortable or invalidated and in some cases, the other party unaware that they have done so. Microaggressions are often questions or comments regarding a person’s identity that confirm biases regarding that identity.

They can make people feel unseen or in some cases, too visible. Sometimes, they are unintentional.

Regardless of whether they are intentional or not, microaggressions tend to breed mistrust and they contribute towards a hostile work environment that may make it hard for workers to perform tasks together as a team. This slows down efficiency and productivity for the company.

In our diverse world, it can be difficult to navigate a diverse workplace, especially when you aren’t used to interactions with people of a different identity. This is where digital coaching comes in.

Digital coaching can make the integration process easier and assist in creating a workplace environment where people feel heard and respected, irrespective of their identity.

The Hidden Cost of Microaggressions in the Workplace

A lot of people are not willing to admit that microaggressions can be and are often detrimental to the overall wellbeing of employees in the workplace. They are often dismissed as unimportant because there is no clear “bad guy” or slight that can be pointed out in the interactions. However, the thing about microaggressions is that their effects tend to build up over time.

Just like a seed takes time to germinate and grow, the issues created by microaggressions become planted in the individual’s mind and with time, it can turn into a big problem.

One of the most common problems arising from workplace discrimination is that it affects the productivity, mental health and engagement of employees.

Employees who are targets of microaggressions may tend to become more subdued in the workplace, they may even become reluctant to participate in workplace activities for fear of taunts or ridicule. Employee performance is greatly reduced.

This could lead to depression or anxiety in several cases. In time, said employees begin to avoid the workplace and may eventually quit.

Unchecked microaggressions that result in high employee turnover eventually come back to bite the company, especially when you consider the costs of continuously needing to hire new employees over and over. This can significantly affect the company’s talent development pool negatively, making it harder to achieve goals as more resources will be directed towards hiring more employees.


Another way microaggressions can affect a company is that it puts the company’s reputation at stake. If employees constantly leave your organization due to microaggressions, more people start to avoid your company. Both potential clients and workers become wary of doing business with you.

In time, this affects any diversity or inclusion efforts you may want to make. Unchecked microaggressions in the workplace can have long lasting effects like lower employee engagement that cost a lot to undo. This is why it is important to take them seriously.

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Understanding Microaggressions

Unconscious or not, microaggressions can come in different forms and they are often expressed as a result of preconceived biases about a certain group.


These are the most obvious forms and they present as conscious acts of discrimination. In this instance, the aggressor consciously uses derogatory language and makes comments that promote segregation. Oftentimes, these comments are masked as jokes but they are harmful to how the subject is perceived. They could also be offensive comments that are meant to paint differences in a negative light.


Microinsults demean a person’s identity verbally or non-verbally. They are often targeted at a person’s racial identity by making them appear less than others. This kind of microaggression can both make a person appear smaller or more visible, depending on the context and it could make an individual feel as though they are not welcome. It also puts them in a defensive position.


These tend to invalidate or dismiss the feelings, emotions and experiences of a person, especially when they express their feelings about things they have had to endure as a result of their identity. Denying the existence and impact of microaggressions is a form of microinvalidation because it ignores the issues at hand.


Microaggressions can be highly detrimental to the overall functionality of a company. It is hard to work in a company where your identity is constantly being questioned or put on display. This is why executives need to take the issue seriously and adopt a proactive approach to eliminate biases among employees.

Taking a reactive approach may not always work, this is why a multifaceted approach combined with digital coaching helps to address issues of microaggressions before they escalate.

At the end of the day, every employee wants to know that they are welcome and taken seriously. Denying the existence of microaggressions does more harm than good in the long run.

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Samuel Olawole
Samuel Olawole is a freelance copywriter and content writer who specializes in creating exciting content across a wide range of topics and industries. When he’s not writing, you can find him traveling or listening to good music.

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