Yesterday, Time Magazine named “The Silence Breakers” as their 2017 Person of the Year.  With the dramatic impact of the #Metoo movement on the way Americans view sexual harassment, this is an appropriate designation.

For those employers striving to create a positive work environment, breaking the silence of harassment is a healthy, although potentially painful, development.  With the seemingly daily reports of more high profile individuals being under fire for inappropriate or harassing behaviors, it raises the question:

Is your organization prepared for a harassment complaint?

To find out, ask your leaders these questions:

  • What constitutes sexual harassment in our organization?
  • Are our employees comfortable reporting issues? Have we received any complaints recently?
  • Have there been issues that should have been reported, that weren’t?
  • What do our leaders do if they observe something inappropriate but the employee asks that it not be addressed or promises to “solve it alone.”
  • What if a leader observes a problem in another area or department?
  • What is the process if there is a concern about the behavior of a senior executive in the organization?

If you don’t receive confident answers to these questions or if your leaders are not comfortable having an honest discussion about harassing behaviors in the workplace, there’s no time to lose.  Because we know that the best performing organizations provide great environments, HRM would love to help you provide a workplace free of harassing behaviors.  We recommend starting with:

  • Employee Awareness: Employees must be trained on what is and is not acceptable behavior in the workplace.  These expectations must be documented in policy, clearly communicated, and openly demonstrated.
  • Leadership Response: All leaders need to be trained to watch for harassing situations and know how to respond to complaints when they occur.
  • Investigation: Contrary to what you see in the news, speed is not a good indicator of the effectiveness of an investigation.  The best investigations are thorough, impartial, and fact based.  Is your organization prepared to do this confidentially and effectively?

The gift of a harassment free workplace is one of the best gifts you can provide your employees this holiday season.  Let us know how we can help.

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