You want your employees, interns, volunteers, and contractors all to work in a comfortable environment that encourages collaboration and is non-threatening. But from time to time, things can happen, words get said or actions are taken, whether out of malice or unintentional, and what was once a welcoming workplace begins to feel threatening and even dangerous. Suddenly, you and the organization are at legal risk.
Here are three key tips on how to prevent micro-aggression, harassment, and bullying in your workplace.
Know What It Is and Spot the Signs of Workplace Harassment
Harassment is often difficult to talk about and explain, since it can take so many different forms.
“Most employers have some knowledge of what sexual harassment is and what it looks like, but other forms of workplace harassment including race, religion, nationality and disability, to name a few, can be much harder to identify.” says Margaret Almeida of The Pendolino Group, an HR Outsourcing firm that specializes in helping small to mid-size companies and non-profits navigate the growing complexities of the California and nation-wide employment and business landscape.
It’s important to remember that workplace harassment may take many forms. It may be verbal, written, physical or visual. It may be blatant or subtle. It may consist of slurs or negative stereotypes, rude and offensive jokes, or any threatening, intimidating or hostile acts intended to insult a targeted individual or group based on their protected class status.
“Harassment of any type can be summarized as unwelcome conduct, based on an individual’s membership in a protected class, that is severe and pervasive enough to alter the terms and conditions of employment or that creates a hostile work environment”, shares Dianna Wilusz, Human Resources professional in the San Francisco Bay Area.
With the most recent state law changes in California, Maine, New Yorkand Connecticut, most employers are now subject to new, more stringent training requirements, and further scrutiny under federal laws regarding different forms of harassment.
Set and Communicate Policies for Workplace Harassment Prevention
“Having clear anti-harassment policies, and communicating the policies, are critical in heading off trouble.” shares Neera Gunn, Senior HR consultant based in Sacramento, CA.
When all of your staff, including contractors and even unpaid volunteers, are aligned on what harassment is, there’s less room for misunderstandings. Your policy should include a clear definition of harassment and highlight the specific practices that your company is taking to ensure compliance with workplace harassment prevention legal requirements. Be sure to include information about the different forms harassment can take.
Your policy should outline how personnel should report harassment, whom to report it to, and the consequences for workplace harassment. It isn’t enough to just to have a policy – people have to be aware of it.
Include your policy in the employee handbook and all contractor and volunteer agreements. Another best practice is to provide a multi-channel reporting procedure that allows personnel to bring complaints to more than one member of management.
It should be clear that the organization will not tolerate harassment and ensure everyone understands the channels for reporting it. Harassment must be investigated and addressed, but that’s impossible to do if managers don’t know it’s happening. Likewise, you want everyone to understand that all claims of harassment will be taken seriously and also that false claims are equally harmful and may be considered harassment if they are found to be equally contributing to a hostile work environment.
Train All Employees, Contractors and Unpaid Personnel
Most importantly, you can take a proactive stand in the workplace with proper harassment prevention education.
Regular training for employees, contractors, unpaid personnel, and supervisors on topics such as recognizing and addressing micro-aggression, anti-bullying, workplace harassment prevention, is a critical and legally required element for the organization.
All personnel should be trained to know how to identify, report and respond to instances of harassment, micro aggression, and bullying – this is key to prevention.
“To be effective, the training should clearly delineate what is acceptable and unacceptable workplace conduct, explain that the workplace extends to any place where the business is conducted and anytime when personnel are on company time or at a company sponsored event. Keep in mind that this includes breaks, company happy hours, business trips, conventions, training event, and even holiday parties,” Almeida says.
Your training program should address the policy, ensure that all personnel, employees and supervisors know how to bring forward complaints, and assure employees, contractors, volunteers, and supervisors alike that they will not be retaliated against for bringing harassment complaints even if the underlying allegations are ultimately ruled to lack merit.
EEOC research confirms that training is the best tool to prevent workplace harassment. A complete, comprehensive training program can be a great first step to eliminate micro-aggression, bullying, and harassment and at the very least, may help to minimize the impact of harassment legal costs and fines.
If you’re asking, “where can I find the right Workplace Harassment Prevention Training?!”
The Pendolino Group offers a complete solution that covers all Workplace Harassment Prevention Training needs for employees, other personnel types, and supervisors at The Pendolino Group Learning Center. It’s uniquely designed, and in multiple delivery formats, to create and reinforce a productive and collaborative work environment and save companies time, energy and money.
To help your organization meet the new training requirements, The Pendolino Group now offers Workplace Harassment Prevention Training in a variety of formats. We are the only organization in the California Bay Area to offer fully integrated training that meets local and remote employee needs. All our course offerings meet the high standards you’ve come to expect from The Pendolino Group:
- Clearly communicate key concepts
- Offer an easy to understand, interactive, and personable presentation style
- Compliant with SB1343 and AB1825 requirements
- Deliver content that meets the highest standards and incorporates best practices
Select from a variety of training delivery formats to meet the need of your organization:
- Instructor-led sessions for your organization’s in-house audience
- Monthly instructor-led live webinar sessions for general attendance, including live Q&A. Sessions are available the 3rd week of every month.
- On-demand course for sale through our Pendolino Group Learning Center
All our Workplace Harassment Prevention Training Courses offer a Certificate of Completion for 100% passing score.