Workplace harassment is a serious issue that can have profound effects on employees’ well-being and organisational culture. Harassment can take various forms and encompasses any unwelcome or offensive behaviour that has the effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment for an individual or group. Unlike bullying, which typically involves repeated and intentional mistreatment, harassment can be a one-time occurrence or a pattern of behaviour. It targets individuals based on protected characteristics such as gender, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or age. Examples of harassment may include derogatory comments, offensive jokes, unwanted physical contact, intimidation, threats, or exclusion from workplace activities.
 In this blog post, we’ll delve into key statistics on workplace harassment and provide practical strategies for fostering a culture of respect and inclusivity.

Statistics on workplace harassment:
1. According to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), more than half of women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.
2. The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights reported that one in two women have experienced sexual harassment since the age of 15 across EU member states.
3. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reported that approximately 75% of individuals who experience harassment in the workplace never report it.

Practical tips to prevent harassment:

1. Develop comprehensive policies: Create clear and comprehensive anti-harassment policies that outline unacceptable behaviour, reporting procedures, and consequences for violations. Ensure these policies are communicated to all employees and readily accessible. They should also be applied consistently and what we mean by this is there isn’t one rule for one and another set of rules for everyone else.
2. Provide regular training: Offer training sessions on harassment prevention for both employees and managers. Cover topics such as identifying harassment, bystander intervention, and creating a respectful workplace culture.
3. Promote inclusive leadership: Leaders and managers should lead by example and foster a culture of respect and inclusivity. Encourage open communication, address inappropriate behaviour promptly, and support victims of harassment.
4. Encourage reporting: Establish multiple channels for reporting harassment, including anonymous options, to ensure employees feel safe and supported when coming forward with complaints. Assure confidentiality and non-retaliation for those who report harassment.
5. Conduct thorough investigations: Take all reports of harassment seriously and conduct prompt, fair, and impartial investigations. Provide support to both the complainant and the accused throughout the process.
6. Implement corrective measures: Take appropriate disciplinary action against perpetrators of harassment, up to and including termination of employment if necessary. Any action should always be consistent too. Communicate clearly to all employees that harassment will not be tolerated.
7. Offer support services: Provide access to counselling or support services for employees who have experienced harassment through your EAP. Ensure that victims receive the necessary assistance to address any emotional or psychological trauma.
8. Regularly review and update policies: Continuously assess the effectiveness of anti-harassment measures and make necessary adjustments to policies and procedures based on feedback and changing circumstances. Advances in technology means the landscape of harassment is evolving and your policies need to reflect this.

Workplace harassment undermines employee well-being, productivity, and organisational culture. By implementing these practical strategies and prioritising a culture of respect and inclusivity, employers can create a safe and supportive work environment where all employees can thrive.

Tell Jane can support you in creating a workplace that actively discourages exclusion. As well as anti-bullying and harassment training, our expert HR practitioners can manage workplace investigations, help you set up an ERG and provide you with an anonymous employee hotline. Simply email hello@telljane.co.uk to find out more.

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