What is harassment?
Workplace harassment can take on many forms and can be interpreted by different people in different ways. No matter how it’s interpreted, if a person finds someone else’s behaviour offensive or it makes them feel intimidated or humiliated, then it’s harassment.
Harassment in the workplace has unfortunately been happening for as long as we can remember. Types of workplace harassment include:
- Physical harassment
- Discriminatory harassment
- Sexual harassment
- Personal harassment
- Power harassment
- Psychological harassment
Read more: 7 examples of workplace misconduct
Nowadays, companies are expected be proactive in countering it. In many countries, employers have a legal responsibility to provide a safe and harassment-free environment for its employees.
How to protect employees from workplace harassment
- Be proactive and listen – have regular, one-on-one sessions where you ask how your employees are doing. Hold group discussions as well, so that harassment isn’t a taboo topic.
- Provide training on harassment. Make sure the training includes information about what it is, what’s not tolerated in the workplace, what to do as a witness of harassment and what happens to those who are harassing others.
- Get feedback – Hold department and company-wide meetings asking how the company deals with complaints. This way, people contribute to having the right procedures in place.
- Have a thorough policy, that all employees can access. Harassment is most likely to be included in a wider company policy, such as ethics or code of conduct. The policy should detail how to report harassment, such as through a whistleblowing channel (see #6), and how the information will be handled.
- Get legal advice on your policy. Make sure it has the approval of your legal department, and/or contact your local employment department for advice.
- Implement a secure reporting channel, such as a whistleblowing system, through which you encourage employees to report harassment in a confidential way.
Reading tip: Key factors to make your whistleblowing system work
- Respond swiftly – Take the employee seriously and document the conversation, and make sure to follow up after any investigations. Whistleblowing systems can help organisations coordinate this.
- Protect employees from retaliation – have a special clause in your policy that encourages employees to come forward because their identity can remain hidden. The EU requires national versions of whistleblowing laws to penalise against those who retaliate against whistleblowers.
- Walk the walk – People need to see the organisation as a trustworthy, credible ally, so be a great role model – follow your policy, take action and be supportive.
Reading tip: How to encourage employees to report misconduct
If you’re considering implementing a whistleblowing system, have a read of these six benefits that whistleblowing brings to an organisation.
Would you like to learn more about a whistleblowing service and safe internal reporting channels? Read more about the EU Whistleblowing Directive here and at EUR-Lex.
Are you looking for a safe and secure whistleblowing solution? Read more here.
Would you like to discuss a whistleblowing system for your organisation?
Please contact us or book a free demo!