Workplace Harassment Training: All You Need to Know

Workplace Harassment Training: All You Need to Know

The Facts

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Workplace harassment training is a step taken to prevent any inappropriate behavior, let it be bullying, sexual harassment, or passing abusive comments that are considered offensive. Harassment in the workplace is something that no employer wants.

Employers are obligated to create safe and healthy working environments for their employees. Building an inclusive atmosphere where employees are safeguarded from bullying, denigration, and unwanted approaches by their coworkers is a part of that charge.

Types of Workplace Harassment

There are many types of harassment faced by employees of any organization. Understanding the different types of workplace harassment can help deal with them in some way or the other.  

1. Discriminatory harassment

  • Racial harassment: It is harassment based on a person’s race, color, and ethnicity.
  • Religious harassment: It roots in the hatred one has towards another person’s religion or beliefs. 
  • Gender harassment: This is a kind of discrimination based on their sex. Some may have negative stereotypes about how a man or woman should act.

2. Physical harassment

  • This type of harassment occurs when someone touches a person without their consent. Some of them may include physical attacks or threats, which constitute a serious issue.

3. Personal harassment

  • It includes bullying, verbal abuse, gossip, comments, teasing someone, etc.

4. Psychological harassment

  • When someone has a negative impact on another person, it leads to serious psychological harassment.

Important Things to keep in mind about the Training

1. Real-time training

Make sure the training is participatory and led by a knowledgeable instructor. The training will not realize its full potential if your personnel are passive participants. The training should ideally take place in real-time. If this is not possible due to expense or geographical dispersion of staff, you can consider an online alternative, but it must have an interactive component.

2. Support

Confirm that the highest levels of support are behind you. Without the support of senior executives, the training will most likely be dismissed as a “tick-the-box” exercise. Executives should attend the event and, ideally, speak at the start or end. Leaders must make it clear that everyone will be held accountable for following the training's standards.

3. Awareness

Emphasize the importance of taking the instruction seriously. This activity isn't just meant to make supervisors more aware; it's also meant to help them keep their jobs. Make it obvious that the employer holds supervisors to a higher standard than ordinary employees, just as the courts do.

Employees do not voice problems when they should because they are afraid of retaliation. Employers must define retaliation in terms of who is protected (not just complainants) and what is forbidden as broadly as the law allows (not just discipline and discharge). 

Other illegal retaliatory measures include:

  • Reducing the quantity of work allotted to employees.
  • Changing the nature of allotted duties.
  • Removing employees from important meetings.

Remind everyone that any retaliation against someone who reports or sees harassment will be met with swift and proportionate retribution. 

4. Examples

Instead of making broad comments, give concrete examples of inappropriate conduct. Customize examples so that they are relevant in your workplace. Canned training is a complete waste of time for everyone involved.

Give examples of both severe and subtle harassment. Supervisors may define harassing behavior too narrowly if employers do not include the less obvious examples. On the other hand, managers may fail to address what they cannot see someone doing even when it occurs if alleged actions are eliminated.

6. Attention to risks

Pay special attention to risk variables that increase the possibility of harassment being allowed. These include a homogeneous workforce and employees who rely on tips from customers and may be hesitant to speak up. Supervisory training should emphasize how these risk variables might enhance the likelihood of harassment so that supervisors can intervene before problems arise.

7. Highlight the risks 

Emphasize the difference between what is unacceptable and what is illegal. Employers don't want to imply that certain behaviors are illegal when they aren't. In most circumstances, one comment, for example, is not actionable. You also don't want to imply that illegal behavior is OK because it isn't substantial or widespread enough to be illegal.

9. Address

Address all forms of unlawful harassment. Harassment can be perpetrated based on a person's race, ethnicity, or religious beliefs. And don't forget that gender-based harassment is illegal, even if it isn't sexual.

10. Advice

Give supervisors advice on how to respond in an incident. If supervisors aren't taught what to say from the minute an employee reports harassment, they can remark something inappropriate such as, "That doesn't seem like Mark." Keep it simple: “Thank you for bringing your issues to my attention.” 

12. Teach supervisors 

Supervisors must know how to respond to bad behavior before it becomes a problem. Even if there isn't a complaint, managers who see, hear, or otherwise become aware of harassing behavior should follow up. Silence is a form of condonation. This is why the EEOC recommended that supervisory education programs include so-called bystander training. This sort of training is based on the idea that bystanders (those who become aware of harassing behavior) play an important role in ending harassment.

14. Educate 

Teach people the need for politeness. Even while being unpleasant or uncivil is not illegal unless it involves a protected group, incivility is the entryway to harassing behavior. As a result, the EEOC advises companies to perform civility training. True, civility training has the potential to cause issues with the National Labor Relations Board. However, if organized appropriately, such training can be incorporated into anti-harassment training and into performance management training for supervisors who are not covered by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

16. Assess and reassess

Obtain detailed feedback from employees on what resonated with them and what they want to learn more about. Discuss whether behaviors, such as a nondiscriminatory yet strong management style, do not qualify as harassment.

Importance of Workplace Harassment Training

If a firm engages in sexual harassment when employing personnel, the corporation can be held legally liable for the acts of its workers. 

  • In the long term, it is less expensive to conduct harassment training, adopt harassment policies, and establish a zero-tolerance environment than it is to defend yourself against a single harassment claim, regardless of whether you are found to be at fault for it. 
  • Employers can reduce their risk of a lawsuit by creating specific harassment rules and giving and documenting harassment training, which can help prove that employees were made aware of the company's anti-harassment attitude if taken to court.
  • Keep in mind that while federal law recommends harassment training regularly, some states may compel it. In California, for example, firms with 50 or more employees must provide supervisors with two hours of sexual harassment training every two years. 

When it comes to harassment and educating your staff, be aware of the specific rules of your state or locale. Conducting training programmes is sure to help organizations and their employees deal with harassment and be free from it.

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