You want your employees to feel comfortable coming to work every day. You don’t want them to have to worry about someone they work with behaving inappropriately, and you definitely don’t want them to have to turn to a sexual abuse lawyer due to an incident that occurred at work.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking there isn’t much you can do because your employees should be responsible for their own behavior. Although that is true to a certain extent, there are things you should do to make sure your office doesn’t support or turn a blind eye to sexual harassment.
Hire the Right Employees
When you hire employees, there are a lot of things you look for when considering whether they are a good fit for the job. By all means, look for employees with the right experience and education, but you should also be looking for other things, like how hard of a worker they are and whether they have had any sexual harassment or other issues in previous workplaces.
Unfortunately, a potential employee probably isn’t going to disclose previous indiscretions. The best way to determine the possibility of potential problems is to vet your employee extensively. Contact previous employers, in addition to their references, and run a background check to look for charges or restraining orders.
Create the Right Workplace Culture
Although it is the responsibility of each of your employees to behave in a professional manner when they’re on the clock, it’s also your responsibility to create an atmosphere where inappropriate behavior is clearly not acceptable.
That means creating a positive workplace culture. Some tips for doing that include:
- Create a clear vision statement and share it with your employees
- Have an open door policy where employees feel like their feelings and opinions matter
- Engage your employees in daily operations to help them stay engaged with the company
- Find ways to let your employees know they are appreciated
You should also foster positive relationships between your employees beyond their professional relationships. Host events and schedule pot lucks where employees can talk to each other about topics besides the latest project or deadline.
Create a Clear Sexual Harassment Policy
You hope for the best when you hire new employees and create a company culture that supports professional, friendly interactions, but that doesn’t mean you can stop all bad behavior. It’s important to create a clear sexual harassment policy so employees already know the consequences of misbehavior, and you know exactly what to do if one of your employees approaches you with a concern.
There are important items you need to include in your policy like:
- A clear description of what sexual harassment includes
- How indiscretions should be reported
- Actions that will be taken when a report is made
- Confidentiality clause that encourages reporting
Train All Your Employees
It’s important to provide your employees with your company’s sexual harassment policy, but just because you hand over the details of your policy to every employee doesn’t mean they will read it, remember it, or follow it. You have to make your policy more real by making sure your employees are trained.
You aren’t stuck creating and administering a sexual harassment training program on your own. There are many vetted and effective programs to choose from that will ensure your employees know exactly what is expected of them while they’re at work.
Has it been a while since your employees have been trained? Don’t just train everyone once! It’s an important topic to revisit at least once a year, even if it means shortening your sexual harassment course for employees to take as a reminder.
Take Complaints Seriously
It is extremely important to take complaints seriously. First, it’s important because it shows your employees that you care. If someone experiences unprofessional behavior from another employee, you want them to know that their comfort matters so they can continue focusing at work.
It’s also important to take complaints seriously because it shows other employees that you won’t just sweep sexual harassment under the rug. If other employees see that you’re willing to reprimand those who go against your sexual harassment policy, they are less likely to behave inappropriately.
It’s true that you have a lot to worry about, but it’s important to focus at least some of your attention on sexual harassment issues. By doing so, you can create a warm, inviting, and professional atmosphere that encourages your employees to give 100 percent each and every day.