Opening Doors Blog

Harassment Claims Are on the Rise: 6 Steps to Protect Your Organization

Thursday, December 14, 2017



Sexual harassment claims in the media are rising at an alarming rate. The need for immediate action in response to these trends should be a priority for every organization.


The growing #MeToo campaign has given employees a platform to share their story and call out misconduct in the workplace. These shared experiences are prompting increased openness about discussing the issue and will continue to give employees the confidence to bring forward claims they may not have had the courage to do so previously.

Just because your organization hasn’t received a claim doesn’t mean your current work environment will be safe from future claims.  

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO RIGHT NOW

It’s important that employers know how to recognize early warning signs and prevent behavior that could lead to a hostile work environment and subsequent claim. This is a critical time for organizations to take a hard look at their culture, workplace behaviors, and policies to proactively assess areas of risk. 


Here are six factors every organization should consider right now to protect their employees and the organization from distracting workplace behaviors and expensive legal claims:


#1 Online harassment training isn’t enough - Offering customized, onsite training sessions provide employers the opportunity to reinforce their organization’s core values, reflect their cultural norms and share examples that are relevant to their work environment. 


#2 It’s not just employees and management who need training - HR teams need continued professional development on leading effective investigations to avoid legal mishaps and ensure that each party is treated fairly and objectively throughout the process. 


#3 Conflict resolution is a core competency - Should an employee become uncomfortable with the behaviors of coworker, being able to tell them directly that they prefer not to talk engage in those discussions in the workplace may be enough to quash the issue. To build this skill in your organization, employers should complement harassment prevention trainings with conflict resolution and active listening skill development sessions. 


#4 Now is not the time for outdated and ineffective policies - If there was ever a time to ensure your policies are legally compliant and effective, now is that time. Follow these four tips to ensure your policy is effective: 
Avoid legal-ease
Use examples
Have a multi-option complaint policy
Extend expectations and protections to customer, clients, vendors, or contractors 


#5 Reinforcing a culture of respect - Organizations should consider how respect and inclusivity are expressly valued in their workplace. If respect and inclusivity are not currently captured in your organization’s core value statement, should they be?


#6 Top-level executive engagement - To set the tone for the organization, top-level executives should quickly engage by reinforcing the organization’s commitment to a harassment-free work environment and broadly communicate the launch of a company-wide anti-harassment campaign.


These efforts don’t have to change the essence of your culture. Friendly banter and humor in the workplace is an important part of any work environment. Many Human Resources consulting firms help clients create a custom anti-harassment campaign that will balance cultural values and support personal relationships while establishing appropriate boundaries between fun and harassment. 



Solvere HR Consulting provides powerful HR solutions that optimize your organizational capability and profitability through your most valuable asset -- your employees. 
Learn more at www.solverehr.com.



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