One of the biggest challenges for companies with a culturally-diverse workforce is the harassment at workplaces. The fundamental differences between individuals hailing from different cultural backgrounds, often makes certain groups deemed peculiar and belittled by the other groups. Be it sexual, age, race, skin colour, disability, or even religious sentiments, harassment at the workplace can cost detrimental effects to impact business stability.
No matter how small and trivial the claims maybe, harassments at work will only impact employee relationships and company’s sustainability in the longer run. It hampers overall employee morale, to result in reduced productivity and business efficiency. The case could go worse when the victims sue companies, which will cost you millions of dollars of legal liabilities to deal with and even company goodwill is at stake.
Hence, every company should strive to create a healthy and conducive environment at work that discourages intimidation and oppression. Regardless of their background, everyone has equal right to be treated with respect and dignity. Therefore, to build an environment free from negative behaviour, companies should emphasise on creation of an anti-harassment policy that works to educate employees across cultures.
However, constructing an anti-harassment policy is often easily said than done. Due to varied personality traits among employees, how can you make sure the law enacted works? Here’s how:
Define workplace harassment
In most cases, when someone becomes a victim of workplace harassment, they generally do not have enough knowledge about harassment violation. On the other hand, a person could also be the perpetrator, simply because they do not realise their deeds are wounding others. Therefore, the first thing to free workplaces of harassment, is by clearly defining what accounts for workplace harassment.
Describe in detail what kind of conducts are prohibited at work and what can be considered. Include a clear example such that everyone understands the definition of harassment. Thus, they can avoid it completely or report immediately if they experience or witness such conducts of misbehaviour.
Besides stating guidelines, you should also explain the penalty applicable as well in cases of violation, such as reassigning, demote, delayed promotion, or in severe cases, employee dismissal.
Examine your work environment
It is crucial to always monitor your work environment. When designing and developing an anti-harassment policy, make sure to recognise how your employees interact with each other. To get a better understanding about employee relations, you need to invest some time talking directly with employees about their working environment and external surroundings on productivity.
Seek for employee inputs on how to improve your workplace for better. If you notice something shady at work between employees, you should find out the root causes of problems and address them right away.
Socialise the policy
Sometimes, policy becomes no more than a mere formality due to lack of efforts to socialise it to the employees. Henceforth, you need to educate your managers, supervisors, and employees about their roles in preventing and combating harassment in the workplace.
Additionally, to ensure that the policy is well-understood, you should conduct harassment training for all staff. This program will increase employees’ awareness about harassment at workplace and prevent any forms of discrimination.
Encourage employees to report
Just like bullying, sometimes a conduct of harassment goes undetected under the radar, because the victim is too afraid of filing a complaint or a report. The reasons could be varied. It could possibly be, because the culprit is on higher or more senior positions, so the victim thinks that any report on harassments at workplace will only destroy their career.
Or it might be because they feel embarrassed, since harassment is often considered as a private and personal issue. To prevent prolonged effects of harassment to impact employee morale and lead to increased attrition, you should encourage employees to report harassment before it gets severe.
Keep your office culture open such that everyone feels free to talk and express about unpleasant behaviours from their co-workers or boss.
Company policy alone will not help much, if not supported up by concrete action from senior management and business leaders. To create a conducive workplace environment free of harassment, requires active participation from all members in the organisation.
Do not tolerate any forms of harassment at the workplace and if you notice such acts of heinous crime committed by your superiors, then report about it immediately. Employers should take stern action against the culprit to resolve any such issues without further delay.