Harassment is a serious problem in many offices. If your employees are struggling with harassment, whether they are being harassed on the basis of race, gender, or religion, they aren't in a productive working environment, and chances are, they aren't engaged with their daily job tasks, either.
The right harassment policy makes employees feel more secure and comfortable at work, allowing them to be more productive and boosting morale. Does your company need a stronger harassment policy? Check out these signs that your harassment policy isn't meeting your employees' needs:
Sign #1: There Are No Consequences for Harassment
Bill in marketing made yet another racist joke, and it's been reported--for the third time this month. He's pulled into another meeting with HR, but everyone knows that nothing is going to come of it, and frankly, most of his coworkers have stopped bothering to report it at all. Sound familiar? If your harassment policy doesn't include consequences for harassment, it's not going to be effective. Make sure, instead, that your employees know what will happen if they engage in harassment--and that you follow through on the consequences.
Sign #2: The Average Employee Doesn't Know How to Report Harassment
What steps should your employees take if they are victims of harassment in the workplace? Do they know how to report harassment--not only where it should start, but who they need to inform if things don't change? Your harassment policy should include clear steps for reporting that harassment to ensure that your employees know exactly what their rights are and what they should do if they're being harassed at work. The policy should be shared with employees beginning with their new hire onboarding.
Sign #3: No One Can Explain What Harassment Is
No, this doesn't mean that you have to have endless training sessions titled, "How to Avoid Harassment in the Workplace." It does mean, however, that you should have a clear definition for harassment and what type of conduct is considered unacceptable in the workplace. In some cases, this may be as simple as offering a refresher course once a year or leaving a clear definition in the employee handbook. In others, you may need to have more extensive training for your employees.
Sign #4: Your Employees Fear Retaliation for Reporting Harassment
Not only should harassment be reported by individuals who are experiencing it, employees who witness harassment should feel free to report it, as well--and they should know that they have the ability to do so without needing to fear potential repercussions. Does your harassment policy include assurance that employees won't experience retaliation, including worsening job circumstances or potential job loss, if they report harassment? Make sure that employees feel safe at work by offering them those reassurances.
Sign #5: Your Employees are Harassed By Non-Employees Regularly
Have you observed harassment taking place, not between your employees, but between employees and individuals outside the company structure? Make sure that your employees know they can count on you to take care of them. If they're experiencing regular harassment from anyone, the company's actions should be swift and decisive, whether that means kicking out a customer who is treating the staff unfairly or dissolving relationships with vendors and other companies that are mistreating your employees. After all, your employees should come first--and they should be able to count on your company to protect them.
Eradicating harassment from the workplace is an ongoing process. By taking the right steps, you can create a significant impact on the way your employees feel about coming to work, their overall engagement, and their ability to take care of their daily work tasks. Is your harassment policy up to par, or are you leaving the door open for your employees to become victims of harassment? If it's not strict enough, it's time to revamp your harassment policy and create a more effective policy that will protect your employees.