When someone verbally or physically attacks another person at work because of their race, color, religion, gender, nationality, age, or disability, it is known as workplace harassment. Harassment also causes relationships to strain. This can be extremely toxic in the workplace, especially when everyone’s collaboration is required to achieve the company’s objectives. As a result, it is of utmost importance to establish anti-harassment policies.
What Constitutes Anti Harassment Policy
The company’s anti-harassment policy should assist in defining the atmosphere of the workplace. Here are five broad suggestions for HR professionals to think about as they review and improve their organizations’ existing anti-harassment policies.
- Sexual harassment isn’t the only form of harassment
Sexual harassment should be included in all anti-harassment policies. Other types of harassment, however, are also illegal and must be addressed. This includes factors such as race, ethnicity, and religion.
- Avoid legal definitions
You’ve probably encountered policies that cite Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regulations (EEOC). The legal definition is good for attorneys, but it does not provide appropriate warning to employees without extra context. In this policy, you must provide real-life instances of inappropriate behavior that will resonate with the organization’s culture.
Employers sometimes struggle with how much information to share. Understandably, the employer wouldn’t want to make people uncomfortable with a policy intended to make the workplace more pleasant.
To make it clear, declare that your goal is not to make anyone uncomfortable but rather to make it clear what is and is not acceptable so that staff may work in a pleasant environment.
It would help if you were cautious while describing prohibited conduct in your workplace. For instance, “hate words” should be included in every policy as it will give a proper definition not to use it.
- Concentrate on what is prohibited.
Harassment must be severe or pervasive, among other things, to be considered illegal under federal law. It doesn’t have to be as widespread as it is if it’s severe. The opposite is also true.
On the other hand, employers shouldn’t wait until behavior is illegal before preventing (or responding to) it. The purpose is to prevent and address harassing behavior before it escalates to the point of being illegal.
As a result, it is recommended that employers begin a policy by saying something like, “The following operations are inappropriate and therefore forbidden, even though they are not illegal in and of themselves.”
To begin with, the behavior in question may not be considered harassment under the law. Making fun of a disabled employee’s walk is disability-based harassment. However, if there is nothing else, it is probably not enough to be considered a hostile work environment, at least under federal law.
If the restrictions are presented in legal terms, the corrective actions may need to be as well. The company also risks being sued for defamation. That is, the behavior may not be serious or widespread enough to constitute a violation of federal law. However, it may be severe enough to match your standards of what is unacceptable and so be disallowed.
- Sexual Harassment Must Be Addressed properly
Naturally, you will want to include quid pro quo harassment and provide an illustration of what that entails. For instance, as a condition of promotion, an employee must consent to sexual advances.
However, you should add examples of non-quid pro quo harassment that might lead to a hostile workplace. Sexual banter, sexual “jokes,” and inappropriate touching are examples of this type of behavior.
Don’t limit yourself to simply sexual examples, though. Remember to include pregnancy-related instances as well as gender-biased assertions, such as preconceptions about women or men.
A hostile work environment can result from more than just comments regarding someone’s sexual attractiveness. A hostile work environment might result from comments concerning someone’s perceived lack of appearance. Sexual objectification, whether in a positive or bad light, is inappropriate.
- Consider the extent of the prohibitions
It is beneficial to clarify how the prohibitions will be applied. Here are a couple of ideas:
- To begin, state that the prohibitions apply to both workers and non-employees. Your workers cannot engage in illegal activity with non-employees with whom they work, and they should file a complaint if a non-employee does so.
- Second, avoid implying that the policy just applies in the workplace. Make it clear that the policy applies to company-sponsored social functions at the very least.
It should be clearly stated in the policy that prohibitions apply to oral and handwritten words and email, text messages, and social media posts. Because the number of occurrences of harassment, including text messages and social media, has been steadily increasing, employees should be made aware of the situation.
Some social media sites, however, may be private. That is uncommon, but it is feasible. Consider the following example of language: The harassment policy covers social media posts, tweets, and other forms of communication that may be seen by workers, customers, or others.
The Facebook account of the employee can be set to private. However, if colleagues read the posts, they are fair game for disciplinary punishment. A solid anti-harassment policy is, of course, only half of the picture. The other part is a thorough grievance procedure.
Major Benefits of Harassment Prevention Training
The following are the benefits of conducting anti-harassment training:
- The working environment improves
Sexual harassment contributes to the establishment of a dangerous workplace by causing stress at work. Training can alleviate the discomfort and fear this causes, ensuring a safe working environment that ensures quality, productivity, and profits.
- The company culture thrives
Training strengthens corporate culture and encourages individuals by communicating its policies, goals, and values to its many members. It just takes one incident of harassment to ruin a workplace relationship permanently.
The harasser and the harassed may develop a sour relationship as a result of a harassment case. Something they will always have to live with and may have an impact on their productivity at work.
Avoiding this from happening can have a good influence on your employees’ relationships and your firm. While the staff understands the many types of harassment, they will be more sensitive when dealing with their coworkers.
- Training motivates bystanders to report crimes and empowers them
When proper training is offered, previously unreported discrimination and harassment will come to light. Individuals are not the only ones educated about the expected and approved actions in the job; bystanders are also.
- The risk of non-compliance is lowered
If your employees are uninformed and unaware of sexual harassment issues, your company is putting itself in legal, financial, and professional jeopardy. Training protects you from the negative effects of these elements.
One of the primary problems of today’s business owners is harassment at work. Such concerns affect not just large corporations but also small firms and family-owned businesses. It has become essential to provide staff with anti-harassment prevention training and an effective anti-harassment policy. By implementing a consistent and comprehensive anti-harassment policy, employers can avoid financial and legal risks and aid in the prevention of harassment in the workplace.