Modern corporate sector is fast moving and dynamic. It has opened up a plethora of opportunities for men and women alike. In such a scenario the human resource department often has to deal with issues related to harassment.
We all look for different qualities in a job but one common trait required by everyone is the comfort.
In simple language Harassment is any action or comment made to or about an individual, which makes the targeted person uncomfortable. While also creating an uncomfortable work environment for others offended by it.
Often such an environment becomes hostile giving harassment its place among the top 10 reasons for attrition. The way to tackle this problem is through the spread of training and awareness.
Most companies today have a code of conduct for all employees. To further avoid cases of harassment organizations should do the following:
Know about it
Harassment can take numerous forms and hence often becomes difficult to explain. It can be verbal, visual or physical. It may also take the form of slurs, negative comments, jokes or insults based on caste, color, race or gender. Especially aimed to insult the targeted individual. Such comments or jokes might not seem offensive in the head based on the societal background one comes from. But they can cause a lot of damage to the comfort of the receiver.
Write it down
Establish and document a harassment policy and illustrate what happens when specific conduct becomes harassment. Use media tools such as films to visually show scenarios related to harassment
Putting things on paper isn’t enough, get with the involvement of the HR department, conduct training programs for all employees. All departments and brands of a company should undergo training.
Sometimes people don’t know when a comment becomes harassment, hence the training program should aim to demolish this ambiguity.
Establish an ombudsperson
The training program should also demonstrate the different avenues open to reporting harassment at work. The usual process involves reporting the issue to your supervisor, then manager and then the HR.
However, the employee should have free will to report the issue to either of the three or all.
In certain conditions, an employee might feel uncomfortable talking about the issue or about reporting a senior. In such cases, an outside person can help out in keeping the complaint anonymous.
Don’t just document policy and forget about it. The corporate environment keeps shifting shape, hence training programs need to be revised on a regular basis. The training programs should in turn also be recurring, to inform about the updates in policy structure.
Another way to carry this out is to distribute annual handbooks with updated policies. Make sure to take legal advice from a lawyer. QL sure all policy documents are consistent with government employee guidelines.
You should ensure proper channels of communication. Each complaint must be followed by strict investigation. Ensure that all employees know about the reporting procedures and the consequences that they implicate. Managers need to empower their employees to stand up to harassment.
It is not possible to address the problem until the issue is raised. Often employees are afraid of making a complaint, especially if the other party is a senior employee. Therefore, managers are responsible for protection of their employees.
Every year organizations have to pay large amounts of money to resolve harassment cases. As an effective HR rep or manager, your primary concern should be to provide a healthy environment for all employees.
However, it is not always an individual effort and hence the change improvement needs to be company wide across locations.
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