The primary action that you want to take is prevention. When it comes to harassment, effective prevention measures can make a world of a difference in the workplace. While it may not be 100% effective-few things in life are-it can help decrease the impact that the potential risk factors can have in creating harassment conditions. Preventative efforts can also provide staff with the understanding of how to de-escalate situations that could trigger harassment and how to recognize discrimination and harassment early on.
This article will look at the different prevention measures that can be implemented into the workplace. They can be customized and applied to any environment, industry, and business necessary. The majority of these methods are going to be things that can be implemented by management only, although their success lies in the cooperation of all members of a business' staff. Usage of these methods are not limited to just one or one at a time, as they can be used in tandem with each other. They can be used with any existing measures that are already in place, with ones not listed here, or any that you come up with on your own. Places where there are multiple methods in place have seen significant success, as it provides more prevention coverage than just one method would.1
One thing to note: things are ever changing. The staff of a business, its environment, customer base, industry, the economy, and society as a whole. How harassment and discrimination are as well, whether it's the types, methods, or the laws associated with them. To ensure the effectiveness of any method(s) implemented, they should change along with everything else. This does not mean switch them out for something new (although you could do that, too), but check in on how things are going and make adjustments where necessary. All of the methods discussed her are flexible enough to allow alterations as they are needed. So, with that in mind, use them to their fullest extent.
Identify Existing Issues
Before you take any action or implement anything, you want to understand what you are dealing with. While you've already learned about harassment, you may need to learn a bit about the workplace where it might occur in-including if it has already happened. Taking the time to identify any existing issues or anything that may be cause for concern can help make sure that the new changes will be able to do their job. This information can also help you figure out how harassment may occur based on the environment of a business, as different types develop under different conditions.2 To give yourself a better idea of what you're working with, consider looking for some of the following:
Create, Establish, and Enforce Policies
There's not much that can be done against harassment in the workplace if the workplace lacks the proper rules on how to address it. Company policies are the guidelines for how the company and its employees act and operate. So in order for the company to take action against harassment in any way, that information needs to be included in those guidelines. Those policies should include information regarding:
Education and Training Efforts
Harassment seminars are not always viewed favorably by employees. They take time away from work, people have short attention-spans, some just don't want to be there, etc. In some cases, they can just be boring-although that depends on who's leading them. However, education and training on harassment can be a valuable way of communicating information on things like policies, rights, and identifiers of harassment to employees. All of that information can be of value for prevention because it gets people involved in efforts, which is crucial for any prevention measures to work.
There are different education programs from different sources out there, so it's not like your options are limited. Many programs will offer to send experienced experts to you to lead training and education sessions as a part of the program package. Training on harassment can usually be customized on what is needed and who the audience is (e.g. general employees, managers, etc.).6 They can also be made to be not boring and attention-getting, but without turning harassment and discrimination into a joke. Any kind of education or training can be spaced out over time and done in cooperation with schedules to avoid taking away valuable time from staff. There will be a fee, which may prove to be the only problem if there are any budgetary restrictions in the company.
Use of a Human Resources Department
Most companies have a Human Resources department as a part of their operations, with the exception of smaller business due to size and financial restrictions. HR representatives and staff often have the necessary knowledge regarding workplace harassment and they can be an amazing resource to help with prevention. They will often be the ones to handle any instances, maintain policies, receive claims and reports, and set up training sessions.7 Simply in terms of the information that they can provide, including what can be used for any of the methods discussed here, they can be a gold mine. A great HR team can be the best weapon in your arsenal against harassment in the workplace. When you think of it that way, it's basically a no-brainer to include them and use what they can offer to help with prevention. Not using them would be wasteful and may even be viewed as self-sabotage because they are such a valuable internal resource.
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