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How to Prevent Harassment in the Workplace

Lorene MarkowitzOctober 25, 2021,

Harassment is a serious issue that workplaces need to address to ensure a safe and productive work environment. We talked to the experts on ways to deal with and prevent workplace harassment. Here we compiled the best strategies on how we can do that;

Acts of harassment, whether big or small, are unacceptable in the workplace. We are lucky to be living in a day and age where people are taught to speak up and fight for their rights. As a business owner, I make it a point to maintain a safe and healthy working environment for all my employees. Below are some ways to prevent harassment in the workplace:

Encourage Reporting

Encourage employees to report any incidents of harassment in the workplace. Keep a record of all reported incidents. 

Value Every Complaint

Be aware of every complaint made, and take action. Business leaders should put matters into their own hands and let employees know that perpetrators will not be able to get away easily.

Educate Employees on The Matter

Come up with policies and activities that educate employees about their rights. Let employees feel that they are in a safe space, and let them know that someone will listen if they need to air out some grievances.

Foster a Sense of Community

Foster camaraderie and a sense of community in the workplace. Build stronger relationships within the office.

Emily Cooper, Founder, and General Director Oliver Wicks

Empowering Employees

One of the simplest ways to prevent harassment at work is to empower your employees so that they are able to stand up to harassment. Whether it's sexual, discriminatory, physical, or sexual harassment, the organization needs to make it clear that any form of harassment will not be tolerated. 

Kevin Mercier, Founder Travel Blog Kevmrc.com

Provide a Comprehensive Policy

Workplace harassment is more rampant in places where the employees are uninformed or without a procedure to report complaints related to harassment. Providing a comprehensive policy on harassment, training the employees on the details within such a policy, and creating a complaints process are the three key things needed to prevent workplace harassment.

In order to be efficient, your complaints process needs to be fast and wholesome. A slow complaint handling process, more than anything, incentivizes harassment because the perpetrators feel like they can cheat the system.

Alina Clark, Co-Founder & Marketing Director CocoDoc

To prevent harassment at the workplace, I will share two methods that I have encountered and worked well.

CCTV

CCTV is going to be a great source of evidence. So, always make it a point to establish CCTV's in every nook and corner of the house. When any staff complains about harassment, you can always use the footage for proof and press charges. 

No Tolerance Policy

The staff must be well aware of the consequences in order to refrain from harassment. So, ensure a no-tolerance policy on harassment. The punishment must include termination and legal charges if it is sexual. 

Gian Moore is a Partner and Marketing Director at Mellowpine

Set Clear Expectations And Rules, And Follow Them Strictly

Office harassment sometimes doesn’t come off as open harassment. It can be disguised in sly comments and poor jokes, for instance. It’s important to make and follow the rules that will minimize such things. For instance, make sure to make a list of inappropriate office topics - such as politics talk, racist jokes and discussions, misogynistic topics - and ban them from the workplace altogether. 

Make sure to pay attention to the signs of harassment. For instance, if a coworker makes a comment and a joke that is offensive for some and defends himself/herself by putting the blame on the other person calling them “too sensitive,” for instance. 

Branka Vuleta, Founder of LegalJobs.io

Create an Environment of Teamwork

Sometimes harassment in the workplace is induced by the lack of teamwork. Teamwork creates an environment where employees share the same proclivity and work towards the same goal making it hard for one to harass another. 

In case harassment happens, managers should punish the perpetrators to impede recurrence in the future. Remember, harassment could affect the entire company and not just the scornee.

Alex Wan, Co-founder Vinpit

Speak Up When You Witness Harassment And Encourage The Victim To Do The Same

If you see that someone gets harassed, don't remain passive. Try to get closer to the person who is being harassed and speak up, for example, by asking whether there are any problems or whether they would like to speak with you privately about them. Also, if it's safe to do so, ask if they are OK or need any help. If a victim of harassment doesn't feel comfortable speaking with you directly, suggest that they report the issue to management.

Anonymous Whistleblower Hotline

If you're dealing with hostile behavior or unfair treatment at work, make use of our company's anonymous whistleblower hotline. Our hotline allows you to anonymously report incidents that may be considered improper behavior in the workplace.

Be More Active In The Organization Of Company Events

One way to prevent harassment is to do something about it before it even happens. That's why we encourage our employees to help out with organizing company events. Encourage attendance, get people together with colleagues they don't usually socialize with, and update the schedule of events.

Katherine Brown, the Founder & Marketing Director Spyic

Live, In-Person Training Programs

As a 25 year expert on preventing sexual harassment in the workplace, here are my thoughts:

When it comes to preventing harassment in the workplace, we must recognize that you can’t download empathy, but you can learn it from engagement and interaction.

Live, in-person training programs that vividly bring harassment to life put employees in the shoes of those involved and create a deeper understanding of the issues.

Furthering this training by discussing these issues and encouraging participants to share experiences and questions stimulates empathy along with critical thinking.

Bystander Intervention

Promoting the power of “bystander intervention” during these interactive discussions invites staff to take ownership and become partners in creating a culture of respect and dignity.

When HR/Management is present to show commitment, companies that have the courage to endorse frank discussion are the most successful in preventing sexual harassment, bullying, and bias while at work.

Cynthia Cristilli, Founder/Executive Director Life Theatre Services

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