How To Prevent Harassment At Work: 5 Ways To Implement

Workplace harassment refers to behavior, conduct, activities, or words directed at or about an organization or group of individuals that create an unpleasant working atmosphere for the specific individuals and those who are offended but not specifically involved. 

Also, harassment at work gets addressed through regulations that ban unfair employment practices under anti-discrimination statutes. When an employee suffers from harassment, they may also allege a toxic work environment. Employers can eradicate and avoid workplace harassment by using comprehensive training approaches. 

In addition, companies that engage in harassment prevention training show that they care about creating a safe work environment for the employees. Moreover, harassment or bullying of any kind never gets tolerated in the workplace. 

Also, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), modern organizations have a legal obligation to give a work environment free of harassment, insult, or mockery based on race, color, religion, sexuality, or national origin. 

The Definition of Unlawful Workplace Harassment

Harassment at work usually gets defined as sexual or nonverbal behavior that disparages or exhibits animosity or aversion against a person because of that adult’s (or that individual’s family, friends, or colleagues) race, skin color, creed, gender, country origin, maturity, or disability, and that:

  • Has the intent or consequence of creating a fearful, unpleasant, or hostile work environment.
  • Has the intention or effect of intruding unduly with the employee’s work performance.
  • Otherwise harms the individual’s career opportunities.

Apart from this, harassing behavior includes:

  • Violent harassment actions or prejudice based on race, color, religion, gender, ethnic origin, age, epithets, slurs, and negative stereotyping. Also, it includes threatening, frightening, or hostile activities based on race, color, religion, identity, national origin, age, or disability.
  • Written or visual material that disparages or shows hostility or hatred toward a group or person because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or impairment and is displayed on buildings, bulletin boards, or other places on your establishments or circulated in the workplace remains prohibited.

Therefore, if you find yourself in a scenario where you need to assess whether or not any behavior has been harassing, consider the rational individual criterion to help you. If a reasonable person in identical situations would find the behavior aggressive, frightening, or abusive, it is most likely harassment. 

Although harassing behavior must remain factually perceived as producing a hostile work environment to be illegal, the subjective perspective of the harassed employee is also vital. However, if the workforce does not view the working atmosphere as hostile or the conduct to be harmful, it is not illegal harassment. 

What Exactly is Sexual Harassment?

Unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other sexually motivated verbal or physical acts comprise sexual harassment when one or more of the following conditions get fulfilled:

  • A person believes that conforming to the behavior is required to obtain or keep a job.
  • A person believes that workplace judgments such as raises, advancements, and demotions are influenced by whether they accept or reject the behavior.
  • The behavior disagrees with a person’s ability to function or produces an unpleasant, hostile, or hostile work environment.

Employee informal connections with their coworkers should be seen as a personal issue between colleagues, as long as it does not cross the boundaries between acceptable behavior and harassment.

How to Prevent Harassment at the Workplace?

Mentioned hereunder are some of the top ways to prevent harassment at the workplace. 

  • Create comprehensive guidelines

Create a policy that defines distinct types of harassment and, if possible, situations that show what occurs when unpleasant behavior escalates to harassment. Many organizations use videos depicting workplace harassment; however, you can create a policy statement that provides the same information as a training video. 

  • Create In-Depth Education

Speak with a training professional in your human resources department about establishing a training course that especially- targets workplace harassment. Employees and management from hourly to salaried and from frontline workers to top management should receive adequate training. Also, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, harassment prevention training should remain tailored to specific employee groups. 

Also, takeaways or printed policy statements impact how much information you provide to your workforce regarding harassment. In addition, you must try to include your business’s protocol for reporting, researching, and resolving harassment concerns in the training program. 

Typically, the employee will first discuss the problem with his superior, then with his manager. However, if your employees feel uncomfortable addressing the grievance with their supervisor or manager, they should consult with your company’s employment relations specialist or another human resources expert. 

In addition, organizations must announce the date and time for mandatory meetings at these training sessions. If you have staff who work different shifts or beyond their usual business hours, plan training sessions around their schedules. 

If employees in this group receive training during non-work hours, inform them that it is required training. Notify employees that if they fail to attend additional training, they will face disciplinary action, up to and including termination. Therefore, we can say that one of the most significant answers to workplace harassment is prevention training.

  • Provide employee assistance

Make your human resources team available to discuss any issues employees may have about the training or workplace harassment situations. Every year, the policy document must get updated and reissued before you conduct harassment prevention training. 

Obtain a signed recognition form from each participant declaring that they know the company’s anti-harassment policy and place signed citations in employment files kept in the human resources department.

  • Seek legal advice

Call your organizational, legal aid for a competent judicial opinion on your written harassment prevention policy. Request your attorneys evaluate the document and check its compliance with federal, state, and local employment regulations. 

You can also get technical help creating anti-harassment workplace policy announcements by contacting your local Equal Employment Opportunity Commission office. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discriminatory employment practices, is enforced by the EEOC.

  • Update your employment agreement

Update your official document to reflect your company’s stance on workplace harassment. Policy positions should get amended regularly, according to best practices in the human resources professional body. 

Ensure that the policy is always following applicable employment regulations and legislative amendments. Create new manuals and distribute them to your whole workforce if your anti-harassment policy document did not include harassment-related points earlier. 

Benefits of a Harassment-Free Workplace 

Offending colleagues in a workplace, even involuntarily, can permanently wreck a working relationship. Organizations must ensure that such matters get resolved before they occur. Therefore, to warrant a harassment-free work environment, everyone must participate. 

Joint trust and knowledge are the pillars of a harassment-free workplace. Some advantages of a harassment-free organization involve:

  • The workforce in a harassment-free organization is more focused on their work than workers in a harassed organization. Moreover, in a cooperative work environment, employee collaboration is improved. Employee-client relationships are also cordial in such companies.
  • Employees trust their companies more in a harassment-free work environment. They favor airing their concerns through in-house channels. In addition, they would approach the company first, rather than filing a complaint with the officials.

The Bottom Line 

In a nutshell, harassment at the workplace influences the productivity and creativity of workers in an organization. Furthermore, if it happens in your business, it can be harmful to your company’s name. Businesses can readily warrant extending a protected work atmosphere for every worker by conducting periodic harassment prevention training and devising stringent anti-harassment strategies.

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Impactly’s online sexual harassment and diversity, equity & inclusion training packages are used by hundreds of organizations across the country. Impactly is powered by Get Inclusive, one of the largest providers of prevention and compliance training for colleges and universities.