Harassment in the Workplace – Are Your Employees and Business Protected?

This is a true story. The names have been changed to protect the individuals.

Steven is a driver for one of the world’s largest package delivery companies. He makes regular deliveries at an insurance agency.  Sandra, the owner, has invited him twice to her house to go swimming – swim trunks optional.  Steven doesn’t know what to say. He just shrugs it off and says he has to get back to work. He doesn’t want to upset the customer. Today it’s 98 degrees outside. As he approaches the agency, he’s dreading the likely swimming invitation.  What should he do?

Unfortunately, Steven wasn’t given proper training on how to handle this type of situation. He doesn’t know if it is harassment or just awkward. He doesn’t know who to report it to.

Could this be happening to one of your office staff?

#MeToo has given many women the courage to speak out about unlawful behavior they’ve endured, sometimes for years. Keep in mind, as with this real story, it’s not just women who report being victims. Although not as numerous, men report being victims too. According to CNBC, some male sexual assault victims feel left behind by the #MeToo movement.

As an employer, what should you do? Provide training for all employees and managers so they understand what harassment, sexual harassment, bullying and retaliation are. They need to be aware of who can be a perpetrator. They need to know if their actions could be inappropriate or unlawful. They need to know what their responsibilities are as well as your responsibilities as an employer.

When your employees don’t get practical training and reporting options, at a minimum they become distracted and less productive. If the situation persists, they may resign. You’re left scrambling to find a replacement and bear the time and cost of interviewing, hiring and training a new employee.

Live Harassment Prevention Training where employees are encouraged to ask questions provides numerous benefits for your entire organization. After years of conducting training, I’ve found many employees don’t understand what harassment really is. They believe a situation is a bullying or a hostile workplace situation, when it really isn’t. Having Q&A during Harassment and Sexual Harassment training helps clear up many misperceptions. Employee engagement (and productivity) increases because they feel their employer cares about their wellbeing. Providing them a clear reporting option provides peace of mind.

I’ve found post-training incidents of reporting really doesn’t increase much. However, I’ve had cases because of training where an employee was comfortable and clear on how to report. We were able to catch a situation early when it was much easier to resolve.

When employers don’t provide a safe venue for reporting, a situation can become a lawsuit. That’s a costly, time consuming and emotionally draining experience you don’t want to go through.

Want to learn more about providing Harassment Prevention Training? Want to create clear harassment and reporting policies for your employees? We can create a current and compliant Employee Handbook with Non-harassment, non-retaliation and non-discrimination polices and all the policies you are required to have in place. Our training is delivered in a down to earth conversational way allowing employees to ask and clear up their questions.

Guest post courtesy of SCL Business Partner, Karen Hughey of KR-HR (Do not reproduce without permission)