Harassment in the workplace is an uncomfortable truth. In a 2021 workplace survey, 44 percent of Americans have experienced some form of harassment. Even with the shift to remote and online work, harassment is commonplace with 38 percent claiming to have been harassed while working remotely. The same study claims that about half of those situations are reported, with 28 percent of employees saying their employers don’t encourage the harassment to be reported.
Harassment can include things said or done because of a person’s race, gender, or religion, as well as personal bullying, abuse of power, and sexual harassment. Sexual harassment, especially for women, is the most common type of harassment overall. A survey found that 38 percent of women have been sexually harassed in their workplace. The article outlining sexual assault statistics can be found here. Sexual harassment and racial discrimination can create an unsafe work environment for your employees. These types of harassment can end up leading to violence in the workplace.
Creating harassment prevention initiatives and policies is the best way to combat these issues. Only 59 percent of employees say their workplace has harassment prevention and initiatives in place. These statistics prove that while some employers are working towards eliminating harassment, there is a lot of work that can still be done. As an employer, it is important to take the lead with finding and resolving any harassment in your workplace. To make sure you have a safe environment for your employees, check out these tips for eliminating harassment.
Find Harassment Training Programs
Harassment training used to consist of an old tape outlining the workplace’s rules around harassment. These types of training were not engaging and helpful for how to react to an inappropriate situation. Interactive training courses focus more on how to handle certain situations for both employees and their employers. These training programs can help empower people to take action if discrimination or harassment is taking place.
Some programs provide scenarios and role playing to help employees understand what to do in specific situations. Some harassment trainings can be done online so employees can take the courses on their own time. Other training programs require a professional to come into the workplace to complete the course.
Create Open Dialogue
Make sure during or after your harassment training, you provide a safe place to open up dialogue about harassment with you. Creating a safe place for your employees to talk about the issues they are experiencing or seeing in the workplace is the first step for preventing those issues. Create an open door policy for your employees to come to you if they are witnessing or experiencing any type of harassment.
When dealing with a harassment complaint, listening to the victim is key. Even if you are unsure about their allegations, they need to know you are on their side with their complaints. It is easy to brush mild complaints under the rug, but if your employee finds their work environment uncomfortable enough to bring it to your attention, they deserve your support and understanding. Allegations should be addressed and investigated as quickly as possible. It also helps to either remove or move the employee in question until the claims are investigated.
Provide Anonymous Tip Lines
If your employees don’t feel comfortable talking to management about their concerns due to fears of retaliation or embarrassment, an anonymous tip line can help provide an outlet for their concerns. These tiplines typically go through a third party and then cycled back to the employer. This ensures that employers will be held responsible for the harassment, and give accountability for taking action against it. This also helps encourage employees who are having issues with management to still come forward.
The most important step is to take action against the complaint. When employees don’t see their employer taking action against harassment complaints, they are less likely to report them. When harassment goes unpunished, it can lead to employee dissatisfaction and even lawsuits. When employers investigate all harassment claims, and punish proven harassment, their employees will feel safer and more satisfied with their jobs. Employees cannot work in environments where they feel scared, hurt, and unheard.
The easiest way to handle harassment is to stop it before it begins. This can be done by keeping every employee informed on the company’s harassment policies, identify and address concerns with harassment, and train your management on handling those situations. For more information on preventing harasment in the workplace visit https://www.eeoc.gov/employers/small-business/5-how-can-i-prevent-harassment.
If you feel like you have issues with harassment in your company, you need to take action now. There are resources to help you create a better, safer, healthier work environment for your employees. Making these changes will save you from a lot of financial and legal issues in the future. The responsibility of ensuring a harassment free workplace starts with you.