3 Top Ways to Prevent Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Businesses, no matter how big or small, often face the same problems. One of the biggest issues that tend to come up in many institutions is sexual harassment. This is a very serious problem that needs to be handled correctly, or you could be facing significant litigation. Take the necessary steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace so that everyone enjoys a safe, productive environment.
Train Your Employees
The best thing you can do for total prevention is to educate everyone who works for you about proper workplace etiquette. You should distribute physical papers to new hires and even seasoned employees about what will not be tolerated. You can also hold regular sessions where everyone sits down and someone from human resources goes over respectful workplace conduct. Part of this training should also include information about where an employee can turn to if they experience harassment. Your workers should know exactly who to speak with and what actions should be taken if they experience or witness anything. You do not want your employees to refuse to speak because they think they will not be supported. Make it clear that you actively want to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and will do everything necessary to resolve any issues.
In the event that someone does approach you regarding sexual harassment, you want to make sure you take the appropriate actions. A process should already be in place that lays out how you will go about investigating the claims, speaking with the perpetrator and taking the necessary disciplinary actions. It is crucial that you take every complaint seriously. You do not want an employee feeling as though his or her voice means nothing, so do not push anything off to the side even if it is just a rumor.
Depending on the severity of the case, different actions may need to be taken. You may need to send the accused person to sensitivity training so that they learn what is and is not appropriate. More serious problems may necessitate total termination of employment. If employees see that real consequences will result from harassing another employee, then everyone will be more likely to treat each other with respect. One way to ensure that you prevent sexual harassment in the workplace in the future is to show that you, as an employer, are committed to protecting everyone. A zero tolerance policy is often ideal and should be implemented in your organization.
Manage Harassment Before It Gets Out of Hand
Although you should have practices in place on how to deal with harassment if it comes up, you should also be wary of anything that could escalate into something much more serious. If one of your employees touches another worker, then you should inform them that they need to be respectful of other people’s personal space. No matter how innocent they may claim it is, it is always preferable to set boundaries and stick with them.
To prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, you need to create an overall atmosphere where people understand that certain behaviors will not be tolerated. For example, if you are planning a holiday party for your office, you need to make it clear that a certain level of professionalism will still be expected. It may even be a good idea to take the necessary steps to limit or completely prevent alcohol consumption at outside events. You also need to create a culture where people do not tell offensive jokes. An employee may feel harassed from a joke someone made that was in poor taste, and if a joke is brought to your attention, then immediately speak with the worker. The important thing to remember is that you need to take immediate action. Harassment issues are not something you want to hold off on because you have other things on your plate. Take care of them as soon as they are brought up or else your business could be facing much more serious problems down the road.
Ideally, you will hire employees who will respect each other, and you will never have to deal with a sexual harassment case. However, you can never truly know whether someone will behave inappropriately around others. Some people may be harassing someone and had no idea that what they were doing is considered sexual harassment. With training, you can prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and have an office everyone enjoys coming to.
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