Unfortunately, the transition back to the office this year may result in a rise in sexual harassment incidents. One study found that just over half of women experienced some kind of aggression while working remotely which could be a bad sign for the possibilities of harassment once everyone is back in the office. So let’s quickly discuss a few key steps employers can take in order to make sure they’re welcoming staff back to a safe working space.
A few ways to prevent sexual harassment incidents
- Educate your staff. This starts immediately, as in the company’s zero-tolerance policy should be included in the job description. Then, it needs to be clearly discussed during the interview process and detailed within the employee handbook (tips on writing a great handbook here). Then we get to training. In many states, yearly harassment training is required (at least one hour per year) but we encouraged follow-up trainings and/or discussions to ensure understanding AND compliance.
- Walk the walk. It’s vital that upper management is complying with company policy. This truly sets the tone of the company culture and if a strong zero-tolerance policy is going to succeed, it will be because upper management takes it seriously.
- Follow-through. A key component in preventing sexual harassment is in taking complaints seriously, and making a point to resolve every single one. Sometimes employers can feel as though they’ve hit a wall in their knowledge of how to respond and when this happens, it’s important to know the resources available to them. There are organizations that can assist in resolving claims. The worse thing an employer can do is to ignore the problem, it will not go away and it is damaging for all people involved AND the company culture as a whole.
A company culture that embraces a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment is one that is significantly healthier: employees feel valued and being able to work in a safe space is beneficial for everyone involved. It’s also of interest to note that employees in this kind of culture act as a protective shield against sexual harassment incidents from occurring in the first place. And, if a workplace is built on the foundation of mutual respect, it’s likely to navigate issues that arise more successfully.
As we previously mentioned, there are resources employers can utilize to effectively address these complex issues. The best tool to consider, if we do say so ourselves, is outsourcing your HR department! The benefits of a dedicated team working on all employee-related matters are numerous but most importantly, it can ensure that the important stuff receives the attention it requires. Take the experienced team at Eos HR. We make sure small business employers have the resources they need to lead a productive and safe workplace. Schedule a free consultation today to learn more.
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