Workplace Harassment Harms Your Good Workers and Encourages Your Worst

Dec 3, 2020 | Business Insurance

Workplace harassment is a serious problem that can affect the well-being of your employees as well as the success of your business. One claim alone can cost tens of thousands of dollars and mandate training initiatives you already should be implementing. 

In the following article, we’ll be discussing the importance of workplace harassment training. Let’s begin! 

What Harassment Training Tells Your Employees

You have to think about the message you’re sending to employees as you approach the problems of sexual and workplace harassment. They expect and deserve a safe environment to do their jobs, and workplace harassment training delivers that.

Before getting into the benefits and what your next steps should be, let’s look at the messaging. Here are the six positive messages that you’re sending to the people in your employ by committing to a harassment training program.

Work Is Work

We spend a great deal of our time at work. In fact, one figure estimates that it’s around 90,000 hours or one-third of our lives. The less time spent on nonsense and negative behaviors the better. 

By instituting a training program that tackles the problem head-on, you have the opportunity to send a clear message to everyone who applies to and works within your organization. This is a place where you can show up ready to do your jobs and have the tools and resources needed to do them effectively.

Accountability Is Expected at All Levels

A workplace harassment training program that requires the participation of all employees, from top to bottom, makes it clear that no one is above the law. Not mid-level managers, C-suite executives. If people on the lower levels of the organization see the same is expected of those above them, they will hold themselves to higher standards. 

Differences Are Valued Here

A stunningly awful 46 percent of women face some type of workplace harassment in their lives. They are not alone. Other groups such as Hispanics, African-Americans, and LGBTQIA face discrimination on the job in disproportionate amounts to their straight white male counterparts.

Programs that nip this behavior in the bud and instill accountability measures will send a welcoming message. The message, that yours is an organization that values differences, will encourage diversity.

Watch Out for Each Other

Another great message sent by harassment training is that your organization will encourage the “see something, say something” open-door policy necessary to stamp out workplace complaints. If employees know it’s a priority, they don’t have to feel intimidated to speak up.

You Are Safe

Workplaces that fail to take the harassment threat seriously make their employees feel unsafe in the place where they spend most of their time. This wears on the employee’s self-esteem and overall feelings of safety while contributing to retention problems for the organization as a whole.

Taking a stand against workplace harassment sends a more uplifting message to employees. It tells them they can expect to be protected and supported at all times. 

Respect Is Good for the Bottom Line

Companies that take workplace professionalism seriously have fewer issues with shareholders and the public. This enables them to thrive. Employees notice this, and they see how respecting their fellow man or woman can be the rising tide that floats all boats. 

Now that we’ve discussed the messaging, it’s time to move onto what all this means for your company. When it comes to instituting a workplace harassment program, there are seven key benefits that you need to be aware of, and, not surprisingly, they parallel the messaging. 

1. Employees Get More Done

Without sexual harassment training, you can expect productivity to take a hit. Deloitte has done extensive research on the economic pains of harassment in the workplace. It’s not pretty. 

In Australia, it caused a drop in the gross domestic product (GDP). It’s not a stretch to believe that where there’s smoke there’s fire. 

Working hard to eliminate the problem will give your employees more confidence in their positions. It will make them feel more empowered and appreciated in their positions. Naturally, this will lead to a boost in their productivity.

2. Organizational Protection From Lawsuits 

Stamping out sexual harassment is all about protecting your employees. However, there is a pretty major fringe benefit to the organization by taking up this cause. In short, you protect your organization

You do this by covering the whole from negligence lawsuits in the event there is a management failure. By showing you have taken steps toward giving employees a voice and training everyone on what is acceptable, you shift the burden of responsibility to the perpetrator.

3. Diversity Recruiting Is Encouraged

Once you are committed to stopping sexual harassment, something wonderful will occur. The word will spread that you’re a place of employment where diversity is valued and people of all races, ethnicities, creeds, and orientations will have a voice. Diverse employees bring many viewpoints that are instrumental in future-proofing your organization. 

Your recruiting team will thank you as this will have a net-positive effect on their outreach efforts. The more you practice social responsibility, the more the problems that go with not doing so fade into the background.

4. Reporters Feel More Empowered

Stamping out sexual harassment in the workplace will empower reporters of it, and that’s a good thing. Companies that fail to take this seriously allow perpetrators to bully others and intimidate their way into not getting caught. Putting the behavior on notice will send a strong message that the behavior is not to be tolerated, and your employees will take care of you. 

5. You Foster a Safe Work Environment

Training staff on procedures and protocols for what to do when there is a sexual harassment claim makes the overall work environment safer. Employees that feel more at-ease will do better work, get more done, and become a valued representation of your business. 

6. Reputation and Profitability Have Chances to Grow

Companies that find themselves at the center of sexual harassment claims feel the impact on their bottom lines. They see angry investors, falling stock prices, and consumer boycotts. Getting out ahead of the problem ensures that your reputation and profitability remain intact.

You’re able to build that emotional capital. That means if something does go wrong on an individual basis, how you handle it will buoy you through the storm.

7. Employees View Leadership More Favorably

For an organization to be successful, leaders must lead. Taking a stand against harassment in all forms is the very definition of leadership, and it’s something the majority of the people within your organization will respect you for.

We now know the importance of messaging, the messages we’re sending, and the benefits we can expect to achieve through workplace harassment training. Let’s now take a quick look at how to implement it. 

Make Reporting Safe

The first thing you have to do is give your employees a safe way to report what is happening to them or another individual. Make sure identities are not disclosed. If there is something in the reporting that would give away an individual’s identity, go to great lengths to ensure that information is kept under wraps.

You may want to set up a Google Form or some other form of reporting feature that doesn’t require the individual to disclose their identity. If a formal complaint is filed, make sure conversations are had in front of witnesses. 

Enable Due Process

The victims’ stories are important, but so, too, is due process for the accused. Establish procedures so the accused can speak for themselves and their alleged behaviors. This not only establishes a fairness doctrine but also protects the organization on both sides of an accusation. 

Take Swift Action

Investigate the validity of a claim. If it can be established, make sure steps are taken quickly and those unprofessional behaviors are not tolerated. That could mean a written warning, a suspension, or a termination depending on the severity of the claim and the wishes of the victim. 

Mitigate When Necessary

There may be times in the cycle of a workplace harassment allegation that guilt is unable to be determined. That doesn’t mean you should allow business to go on as usual. If you know there is an issue between two or more employees, do what you can to keep them apart.

If that isn’t possible, establish new supervisory protocols to ensure all interactions are monitored and recorded. Being unable to get rid of the problem doesn’t mean you’re powerless as an organization. 

Make Education an Ongoing Priority

Finally, workplace harassment training can’t be one-and-done. You have to make sure that it stays in the conscience of your employees. Establish annual programs and periodic reviews. 

Consider partnering with an organization that offers webinars and other remote training if the pandemic continues to be a factor. Complacency allows the problem to come back at some point, so take precautions.  

Workplace Harassment Is Serious Business

Workplace harassment can cost an individual employee their job. It can damage the feelings of safety and worth to employees who don’t deserve it. It can lead to the downfall of the organization as a whole.

Take this problem seriously by enacting steps to educate it out of your people. Establish protocols to squash issues before they become major problems. Being proactive will keep you from being overexposed.

Speaking of overexposure, is your business insurance doing enough to protect you from the various pitfalls that are out there? Consider doing a five-minute checkup with Advantage Insurance Solutions today to find out.

Give us a call for any questions or suggestions. We’d love to hear from you!