As the leader of your company, you have an obligation to stop the controversial issue of sexual harassment coming into your company. Turning a blind eye to this type of behaviour will cost you in the form of low employee motivation, lawsuits and bad reputation. There are steps you can take to make sure that the office remains a comfortable environment and that your employees are handing in work, instead of harassment complaints.
Create a Sexual Harassment Policy
After establishing this policy, make sure it is clearly heard by your employees. Hold a meeting focused on the topic and start by defining sexual harassment. Follow this by stating that any form of sexual harassment, whether it be offensive words, bodily contact or unwanted flirting will not be tolerated. Emphasise that you will be following up any complaint received and that serious discipline will follow such actions.
Monitor Employees Closely
After the policy related meeting, it is important to continue checking on employees, which will be appreciated by workers, as they will feel looked after. Chat to them individually about the work atmosphere, letting each one know that their thoughts are completely confidential. As well as speaking to employees, have a look around the office yourself and ensure managers report any potential issues to you regularly. The phrase ‘my door is always open’ needs to be emphasised as communication is key for handling this matter.
Train your Staff
Aim to conduct training for employees every six months. These sessions should focus on the problems that sexual harassment brings to a company and their own career. Teach them how to handle a situation they may be witness to or a victim of. End the sessions with a recap of the company policy and have a Q&A session for any enquiries employees may have. Try to have a separate training session for team managers; this is different to the general employee training as they teach managers how to handle any complaints received, along with the policy review etc.
However, all the tactics taken to develop employee awareness may not stop an incident from happening. You will need to be prepared for a possible sexual harassment claim and be ready to stop the issue quickly and effectively. It is best for you to have more than one outlet for workers to go and vent their concerns. Once any complaint is given, no matter how big or small, it needs to be acted upon immediately. This can mean external investigation into the issue, as making sure it is an organised and effective investigation is more likely to stop the problem right in its tracks, before being taken to court.
Once you sort out any harassment claims, you need to call a series of meetings. Start with speaking to team managers and then have a meeting with employees. Repeatedly emphasise that the issue of sexual harassment will not be tolerated and that any behaviour of this kind will have serious repercussions.
These tactics are time-consuming and will cost money, but are vital for the ‘no tolerance to harassment attitude’ to truly have an impact on staff. It needs to be voiced from you and managers that this isn’t something to simply add into the handbook or to make the company look better. Money spent on training days and time taken to make employees aware is well worth it and is nothing compared to the costs of a sexual harassment case developing in your workplace.
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