When was the last time you reviewed your anti-harassment policy? Workplace policies are put into place to ensure a safe and healthy environment. This, of course, includes helping employees feel emotionally safe, and that the general work environment and social interactions are governed by policies that support a general sense of well-being. We all know that nobody wants to be mistreated or harassed, yet it happens. So when such unfortunate interactions occur, there are things an employer can do to help mitigate such occurrences.
Don’t limit your policies to sexual harassment.
Yes, sexual harassment is bad. However, it stands to reason that other types of harassment are not any more desirable just because they may not be of a sexual nature. The purpose of having an anti-harassment policy is to create and maintain a healthy and positive working environment. Is sexual harassment worse than religious or racial based harassment? Of course not. So look at it this way; make sure any and all protected groups are protected by your policies.
When doing anti-harassment training, be specific.
This means giving real examples. This means when training your employees on workplace policies, don’t just end with an academic or legal definition. Your job is not to make sure your employees understand a definition, but to make sure they don’t misunderstand. Training should be thorough enough to include contextual examples so as to help all trainees what is and what is not acceptable.
Don’t focus on the negative (focus on the positive).
As with any bad behavior or bad habit, one cannot simply remove it and expect positive results as a natural consequence. This means, when giving anti-harassment training, examples need to include replacement behaviors to those listed as unacceptable.
Make sure policies (and trainings) are specific.
We’ve seen cases where an employee claims they never said anything harassing to a co-worker as a defense to an accusation. In fact, such a statement is true, because harassment was executed in written forms (text, email, etc.) and not directly verbal. While it may seem redundant, including the forms in which negative behaviors can be manifest is a sure way to avoid any risk of ambiguity around anti-harassment policies.
So whether you are starting a new business, or have existing policies that could use some clarification and sprucing up; please consider some of these points when it comes to making sure everyone who works for you has every opportunity to feel safe and protected when they come to work.
Stay legally compliant with your HR obligations. Call Dana Ball, employer lawyer to answer your questions with policies and employees to avoid court. We are here to help you avoid a legal mess. We have made the process of “getting a lawyer” not only easy but affordable for small businesses. Get in touch with us for more details. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to work with us!