The modern corporate sector is fast-moving and dynamic. It has opened up abundant opportunities for men and women alike. In such a scenario, the human resource department often has to deal with issues related to workplace harassment.
We all look for different qualities in a job, but one common trait required by everyone, comfortability.
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 at work us among the top 10 reasons for disintegration. 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 workplace harassment organizations should do the following:
Know about it
Firstly, harassment in working areas 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 disgrace, negative comments, jokes or insults based on caste, color, race or gender. These may especially be 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 workplace harassment policy and illustrate what happens when specific conduct becomes harassment. Use media tools such as films, to visually show scenarios related to workplace harassment.
Putting things on paper isn’t enough. One must 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 uncertainty.
Establish an ombudsman/official
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 regularly. 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. Make sure all policy documents are appropriate with government employee guidelines.
You should ensure proper channels of communication. Each complaint must be followed by a 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 workplace 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 the protection of their employees.
Every year organizations have to pay large amounts of money to resolve workplace harassment cases. As an effective HR rep or manager, your primary concern should be to provide a healthy environment for all employees.
However, resolving workplace harassment is not always an individual effort. The change needs to be company-wide across locations.
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