What You Can Do to Protect Your Employees from Harassment in the Office

It is the right of every employee to feel safe in the workplace. However, harassment is still a problem in many offices across all industries around the world. 

It is a grave issue that can cause damage to the life of the victim. It can also negatively affect the entire office, decreasing morale and productivity among those who might have witnessed the issue. 

You can do something to protect your employees from harassment. Here’s how. 

Be Open to Complaints

Many victims of harassment are afraid to come forward and report the perpetrator. Maybe they feel unsafe, or they fear retaliation if they filed a complaint. 

You should encourage them to expose their harasser and share their experience. Provide several channels where they can recount the unpleasant situation free of judgment and without involving the transgressor. 

ServiceNow’s HR service management solution, for example, will make it easier for employees to reach out to the HR staff any time and through any device. It provides a catalog similar to what you see on e-commerce websites to speed up processes and boost interaction between employees and the HR staff. 

Treat Complaints Seriously

One of the worst things you can do is to brush off any rumor. It will only discourage those who have experienced harassment from speaking out. 

When someone files a complaint, investigate it appropriately. You must have a method to look into the complaint thoroughly and fairly. First, interview the complainant and go through evidence of harassment, which can include text messages, chat messages, emails, etc. Next, interview the person who has been accused of harassment. Apply the same respectful approach throughout the conversation. 

Discuss the findings with the company attorney and the human resource staff. Make sure that everyone agrees with your decision before you tell the people involved. 

Woman being scolded at at work

Resolve the Issue Appropriately

Some harassment complaints can be resolved through admonishing the harasser and demanding an apology, verbally or written, addressed to the victim. You also have to make changes in the working arrangement to make the victim feel safe again in the office. In severe cases, the employee proven guilty of harassment can be fired. 

Justice must be sought quickly. You cannot force the victim to continue to work with their harasser while you investigate. The victim should also feel satisfied with your decision.

Most importantly, your victims should never face retaliation from the perpetrator or any of their colleagues. 

Talk about Harassment

Unfortunately, many people do not realize that what they are doing makes their colleagues feel uncomfortable and unsafe. Some people find jokes that are sexual to be harmless when, in reality, they have offended one or specific groups of people. 

Have a meeting. Discuss what behaviors constitute harassment. Bar anyone, including upper management, from making unwanted jokes, gestures, comments about their co-workers. Repeatedly asking a colleague out on a date after being turned down is harassment and should be treated as such. Watching pornography in the office and sending suggestive content to a colleague should be prohibited. 

Hopefully, clearly defining what actions are considered harassment will stop it from happening. 

Harassment in the workplace should never be tolerated. If someone comes forward, they need to be heard and protected. The perpetrator should face appropriate consequences for their actions.

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