How to End Workplace Harassment

September 27, 2021

Did you know that 90% of workers report to have experienced bullying at their job? That 6 out of every 10 older workers have experienced age-based discrimination?

Did you know that, despite all the progress made towards gender equality, workplace sexual harassment incidents remain troublingly high?

Workplace harassment can be detrimental to a business. It can be the focus of costly lawsuits. It can drive away top talent. And perhaps worst of all, it can destroy office morale, so your employees are less likely to perform their best.

If you want your business to succeed, it is vital that you identify and put an end to all forms of workplace harassment. But how do you do it – and what exactly are you looking for? Here’s everything you need to know about ending workplace harassment for good.

Types of Workplace Harassment

The first step to stopping any form of harassment is to learn how to identify the negative behavior. Harassment is much more than physical violence or unwanted advances; there are a variety of types of harassment that your workers need to know about. These include:

  • Discrimination: any time a bully is harassing a victim because of a “class” they belong to – such as their age, race, or sexual identity, their behavior can be considered discriminatory.
  • Personal: Personal harassment occurs whenever one worker picks on another. This includes overly critical remarks, inappropriate comments about the victim, intimidation tactics against the victim, and more.
  • Physical: This kind of harassment is known as “workplace violence.” This term refers to any incident where one employee inflicts physical violence – or even threats – at another.
  • Power: If you’ve ever had a manager on a “power trip,” you’ve experienced power harassment. In these instances, an employee uses intimidation or humiliation to make others who are “below” them academically uncomfortable in the office.
  • Psychological: Workers who suffer from constant criticism or have their ideas trivialized at work are dealing with something called psychological harassment.
  • Online: Today’s employees use the internet to share information with one another. However, if the information a worker shares includes gossip or negative or threatening messages, it becomes a form of online harassment.
  • Retaliation: Retaliation is a form of harassment that occurs after an employee acts (for example, if someone files a complaint) against a colleague. The hurt party might try to “take revenge” through humiliation or even physical violence.
  • Sexual: Sexual harassment typically refers to unwanted advances against a colleague. This can include touching, overly familiar pet names, or sexual jokes.
  • Quid Pro Quo: If an employee’s job benefits (like a promotion) are dependent on their delivery of sexual favors, this can be considered a type of “quid pro quo” harassment.
  • Third-Party: If any third party to your company (like a vendor, supplier, or even customer) is harassing one of your employees (typically an entry-level worker like a cashier), this is also a form of harassment. It is the employer’s responsibility to protect his or her workers.
  • Verbal: Verbal harassment involves yelling, cursing, or insulting an employee or colleague.

None of these forms of harassment are acceptable, and it is a business owner’s duty to prevent all of them in his or her company. The best way to do this is to establish a clear anti-harassment policy.

What Should an Anti-harassment Policy Include?

Your employees should learn your company’s stance on harassment on their very first day of work. Your business’s anti-harassment policy should be part of employee training, and it should be both comprehensive and comprehendible.

Your anti-harassment policy should include the following:

  • A clear explanation of what each type of harassment is (use examples)
  • A clear explanation of how to file a complaint, with multiple reporting channels available to employees
  • Many approaches for dealing with harassment.
  • Clear explanations of the consequences for harassment, with a firm understanding that retaliation will not be tolerated
  • Advising services where victims can receive emotional support

How to Handle Workplace Harassment Issues

Even if you have a comprehensive anti-harassment policy, there is always a chance that someone will act of order within your company. Therefore, it’s critical to have two things in your HR arsenal: a place for employees to report misconduct, and an internal policy for handling harassment incidents.

A third-party hotline is a great way to allow employees to report harassment without any fear of retaliation. With a hotline, you give victims or witnesses power to speak up and put an end to workplace harassment for good. As long as you have a plan in place to address harassment when it occurs (and you act promptly when you receive a tip), you can work to ensure a harassment-free workplace for your employees.

To learn more about ending workplace harassment, or to set up a third-party hotline for your business, contact ComplianceLine today.