7 Steps on Preventing Workplace Harassment from Happening
Even with a spotlight being shined on workplace harassment, it is still very prevalent among many industries. It is important to make sure that as an employer you are doing all that you can to eliminate workplace, and particularly any sexual harassment at your place of work.
Preventing workplace harassment from taking place and creating a clear and strong message that it will not be tolerated should be the first things to focus on. Here is a seven-step guide on preventing workplace harassment thoroughly:
1. Zero tolerance
If you don’t already have a clear and iron clad anti-workplace harassment and anti-discrimination policy you need one. You should engage legal counsel and HR professionals when crafting this. It will need to comply with your local laws on the matter and also protect you as a company from a legal perspective.
Once this is in place, there should be a zero-tolerance approach and enforcing this policy for preventing workplace harassment. There should be no grey areas or wiggle room when it comes to this kind of behaviour. If allowances are made then it becomes a slippery slope of what some employees think they can get away with.
2. Training and awareness is essential
Making sure that everyone in your organization is familiar with the anti-workplace harassment policy is vital. Not only so that they are made aware of the rules and how they are inforced, it is also important that people know the reporting procedures.
These training courses for workplace harassment should be frequent enough that they are top of mind and that everyone is able to quickly and easily make their concerns known to the right people.
3. Extra training is needed for the management level
The training that is needed for people with direct reports needs to be more detailed. The reason for this is that these people are in a position of authority and need to set the tone. They need to be fluent with the harassment policy and all of the procedures related to it. This will allow them to be able to act in the correct manner should a complaint be made.
They will also need to be trained on how to identify when harassment is taking place and how best to react to a number of situations.
4. Building a culture that makes harassment as unlikely as possible
This might seem a lot harder to do than it sounds. The truth is that it will take time, but it will be worth it for so many reasons. The key thing is to enforce this culture from the top down. Having executives and managers lead by example is very important.
Preventing workplace harassment becomes a challenge outside of the office too. When there are offsite gatherings, there is a tendency for people to relax a little too much. By maintaining a professional manner and composure you will be encouraging those in your team to do the same. Extra special care should be in place when alcohol is involved in these settings. Harassment can come in many forms and peer pressure is one of them.
There should be no comment made should someone order a non-alcoholic drink at an off-site dinner. Jokes can also be hurtful and should be addressed carefully. Even laughing or smiling at a joke that is offensive to some can be seen as tacit agreement so caution is always recommended.
5. Make it easy, and safe, to report harassment
The process for reporting and preventing workplace harassment should be laid out in the training and designed by HR. If someone feels like that have been harassed, then there should be no roadblocks to them being able to report it.
Reporting harassment can be very intimidating. This goes double for when a subordinate is reporting an incident involving their manager. It is very important that the complaint is allowed to be submitted with ease and to an impartial member of staff. Swift action must follow.
It is in everyone’s best interest that the complaint be taken seriously and that there is no room for accusations of a cover-up or ignoring the report. Effective and clear communication is vital at every stage of the investigation and beyond.
6. Don’t sit back and relax
In the workplace, there is always a danger of toxic behaviour creeping in and damaging the tolerant and respectful culture that you have worked so hard to cultivate. It can start off small and spread throughout an organization. For preventing workplace harassment, it is vital that you are always encouraging and enforcing the rules that you expect from your employees.
7. Check references
This is something that you should do before every hire for many reasons. The due diligence that you are going to perform will go a long way to preventing you from hiring someone with a history of harassment.