As much as there are laws against workplace harassment now in place, it can’t be denied a lot can still be done when it comes to handling workplace harassment issues. There might still be victims who’d feel as if they aren’t protected enough in their workplace or, worse, their concerns are invalid. Victims may feel they can’t report incidents of workplace harassment or there are some ‘high value’ talents that are exempt from getting called out or sanctioned in harassment reports.
So as an employer, you have to take extra measures for protecting employees against sexual harassment at work. Being proactive is still the best approach rather than being lenient and then regretting it later on after finding out putting the right person accountable is indeed a long, impossible, and arduous process. Good thing there are various things you can do to protect your workplace from any incidents of harassment. These include the following.
1. Inform Employees That Harassment Is Prohibited
The first tip applies if you’re a part of the human resource (HR) team or upper management of a company. To prevent the happenstance of workplace harassment from becoming a norm in the office, let employees know as early as the onboarding stage that harassment is prohibited. Apart from this, the sanctions should also be made clear.
When new hires understand your workplace has zero tolerance for harassment, potential perpetrators would be steered away from even attempting to commit that mistake. The onset of workplace harassment and the difficulty of processing employee complaints would be much lesser when workers won’t even attempt to commit it while within work premises, to begin with.
2. Seek Legal Counsel
From the management’s side, it’s a good idea to seek legal counsel. Whenever you have antidiscrimination and harassment policies in place and you want to review or change some provisions to make it more up to date, the advice of an employment lawyer would always come in handy.
What a lawyer can do in this regard is to ensure your antiharassment and antidiscrimination policies are well attuned to state and federal employment laws. The lawyer can also guide you in the formulation of the right sanctions so they’re also attuned to what the law requires and limits.
3. Build A Healthy Workplace Culture
It’s not enough to have written policies in place without having them put into practice. Therefore, make it a part of your company culture to foster healthy relationships among all employees. Building a healthy workplace should be the key goal of any company as its returns would likely be in huge values. A united and healthy workplace is a more productive and profitable one since everyone’s on the same page when it comes to the standards of respect and ethics to be followed.
A good start to building a healthy workplace culture is through practicing respect for diversity. When few issues arise because mutual respect is fostered, it becomes second nature to every employee to make it their goal to maintain a healthy workplace once they step into the company premises.
4. Train Employees
Training in workplace harassment shouldn’t be done for members of the HR team only. Rather, everyone in the office should also be trained in such. That way, every employee would know about the nitty-gritty of workplace harassment. And when they know what constitutes such an offense, the likelihood of it happening and prospering within the work premises would be lesser.
Employees who could be victims are now less tolerant when they already know what should be done at the first occurrence of harassment. This is because they’d be more certain the acts of another employee are within the scope of sexual harassment.
5. Provide A Complaint Process
As much as you want to strive to have a harassment-free workplace, this may not always be attainable. Harassment can still occur if you happen to have an employee who doesn’t fear established policies and have a disregard for the legal repercussions of their actions. To avoid this, your organization should have a ready and well-thought-of complaint process.
With this in place, appropriate sanctions can immediately be imposed at the first instance of harassment. In the long run, this can actually deter any more occurrences of workplace harassment. When employees are aware you don’t take harassment complaints lightly and these are immediately acted upon, it creates a sense of warning to would-be perpetrators that harassment is completely frowned upon in your workplace.
Harassment can happen to a single worker or different employees in the workplace. Whatever the circumstance, however, when workplace harassment occurs, it can create an uncomfortable work environment for the target. Perhaps those who were once productive employees can no longer do as well and as much now, all because of the fear and discomfort surrounding the incident. Whether you’re reading this as part of the HR team or as an employee of an organization, it pays to be mindful of the insights above to prevent workplace harassment.
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