Following the #MeToo movement, many employers took preventative measures to cut down on workplace harassment. Harassment comes in all shapes and sizes and maintaining a harassment-free workplace requires more than just passive training. Here are some tips on how to recognize potential harassment in the workplace and prevent it before it becomes a problem.
Have a Harassment Policy and Keep It Updated
State and federal laws regulate certain types of harassment in the workplace, but every company should have their own policy as well. The harassment policy should appear in the employee handbook and have clear definitions on what harassment is and how to report it. Keep in mind that it’s not enough just to have a harassment policy. Employers also need to audit the policy and its effectiveness regularly, updating it to address incidents and to comply with new laws.
Conduct Regular Training
A video training during the company onboarding process isn’t enough to prevent harassment in the long term. Employees should be regularly reminded of a company’s harassment policies, informed of any changes, and given additional training at least once a year to address different kinds of harassment. Keeping the harassment policy front and center reminds employees that it is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
Take Complaints Seriously
Not every harassment complaint will result in a firing, but that doesn’t mean you can just write off a concern about harassment. Employees need to know they can report harassment without fear of retaliation or being ignored. Every company needs a strict, step-by-step plan for dealing with complaints.
Having an open-door policy where complaints can be given anonymously is one way to make employees feel more comfortable reporting small concerns about harassment. While these complaints may never be elevated to a full-blown investigation, it gives managers a chance to address something small before it becomes a much bigger problem. Employees should have at least two points of contact for making complaints so that they can be sure to have someone they feel comfortable reporting to.
Don’t Forget About Discrimination
Many employers tend to focus on sexual harassment in the workplace, but there are other types of illegal harassment that cannot and should not occur in the workplace. These include harassment based on race, religion, age, disability, national origin, or veteran status. Managers need to be aware of every type of harassment that can occur in the workplace in order to be on the lookout.
Crafting a proper harassment policy and response mechanism can be a big undertaking for any company. Getting professional help ensures that you protect your employees and shield your company from legal action.
To learn more about how a Professional Employer Organization can help your company address harassment, contact LBMC Employment Partners today.