Written for: River City Recruiting & HR Inc. by Riley Witiw
What’s the best way to deal with workplace harassment? As an employer, harassment threatens both your business and your employees. Therefore, effective human resource management is critical to prevent and manage incidents when they arise.
But, what do I mean by harassment?
The Alberta Government defines workplace harassment as a single or repeated incident of objectionable or unwelcome conduct, comment, bullying or action intended to intimidate, offend, degrade or humiliate a particular person or group.
Here we present five human resource tips to minimize your liability while ensuring harmony in your workplace:
1. Develop a comprehensive harassment policy
To prevent workplace harassment, the CCOHS recommends that you communicate your management commitment through a written policy with several essential characteristics:
Developed by management and employee representatives
Applies to all levels of personnel
Defines and provide examples of harassment
States your commitment to preventing harassment
Encourages employees to report all incidents
Outlines the confidential reporting process, investigation procedure, and consequences for breaching conduct
Commits to provide support services to victims
Commits to monitoring and regularly reviewing policy
These policies should be made available through reference in an employee handbook or manual.
2. Promote your workplace policy
According to a survey of 1,349 Canadians conducted by Employment and Social Development Canada, 76% of survey respondents acknowledged their workplace had a sexual harassment policy.
But there’s a problem:
Only 43% received any training on the policy.
This statistic indicates the need for more human and financial resources dedicated to raising awareness about rights regarding harassment. Your workplace may need to promote related educational materials and training opportunities actively.
39% of the respondents noted such a campaign would be a useful tool in making them feel safe and secure in the workplace.
3. Ensure all international employees know their rights
The law firm, MLT Aikins, relates that internationally qualified individuals or foreign workers are vulnerable to harassment because they often don’t know their rights and are afraid of being deported if they are unemployed. Therefore, if your company hires internationally qualified individuals or foreign workers, educate them on how to identify and report workplace harassment.
This education is especially vital for visible minorities, as Employment and Social Development Canada found they are more likely to undergo harassment than other groups. Educating international employees reduces their potential work-related suffering and limits your legal exposure in cases where harassment potentially goes unreported for an extended period, due to their limited knowledge on the subject.
4. Enforce a social media policy
You are legally obligated to provide your employees with a safe workplace, whether it’s in the office or online. Social media has wide-reaching implications that can expose you to some operational and legal risks, including harassment. However, you can mitigate this risk through a social media policy. MLT Aikins notes an effective policy defines the appropriate use of social media, informs employees you will monitor their online activities, and describes the consequences for breaching protocol.
5. Remove obstacles for employees who report incidents
In a healthy workplace, employees are empowered to report harassment and receive a resolution. However, three-quarters of respondents in the Employment and Social Development Canada survey who experienced harassment faced obstacles from their employers while trying to resolve their incident. Additionally, these obstacles dissuaded 25% of those who suffered harassment from reporting their conflict.
By following these three simple steps, you can avoid creating roadblocks:
Take harassment complaints seriously
Initiate workplace investigations
Do not retaliate against employees who file harassment complaints
The health and success of your workplace depends on the steps that you take to deter and resolve harassment, such as developing and promoting a harassment policy, educating foreign workers, making a social media policy and removing obstacles for employees who report incidents.
River City Recruiting & HR exists to educate, assist, empower, and provide expertise to businesses in a customized and scalable way. River City Recruiting & HR