Workplace harassment is a major issue today. Harassment creates a toxic environment for a business and can harm your reputation. It can also be costly when employees launch lawsuits. Dealing with issues such as workplace bullying, sexual harassment, and other types of harassment is always challenging. It's far preferable to prevent these incidents than to deal with them after the fact. One of the most effective strategies for curbing this problem is by introducing an online anti-harassment training program.
How Workplace Harassment Hurts Your Company and Its People
"1 in 5 people (almost 23%) in employment have experienced violence and harassment at work, whether physical, psychological or sexual"
While sexual harassment is usually directed against women, men are affected as well. There's also the related issue of workplace bullying, which includes verbal abuse, manipulation, and spreading false information about co-workers. Organizations that study this problem, such as the Workplace Bullying Institute, find that almost half of all workers experience bullying at some time or another.
Unfortunately, even these sobering numbers probably don't reveal the true extent of the problem as many incidents are never reported. According to a study from the University of Michigan, only one-quarter one-third of sexual harassment victims report these incidents to supervisors and even fewer ever result in formal complaints.
But (besides caring about employees' well-being), why should employers do anything? How does harassment affect the company's bottom line?
1. Decreased Company Productivity
Harassment creates a hostile work environment which can lead to decreased productivity. Employees who are being harassed or those who witness such behavior may find it hard to concentrate on their tasks. This can result in slower work output, missed deadlines, and an overall reduction in the quality of work.
2. Increased Employee Turnover
Harassment can lead to higher employee turnover. If employees feel unsafe or unsupported, they are more likely to leave the organization. The cost of replacing an employee can be significant, including expenses related to recruitment, hiring, and training of new staff, and the time taken for them to reach their full productivity.
3. Legal Costs
Companies that do not adequately address workplace harassment may find themselves facing lawsuits. Legal proceedings can be expensive and time-consuming, and can significantly impact a company's resources. Besides, there could be substantial financial penalties if the company is found guilty.
4. Damage to Reputation
Allegations of workplace harassment can severely damage a company's reputation, leading to loss of clients or customers, difficulty in recruiting top talents, and potentially leading to a drop in stock price for public companies. Repairing a damaged reputation can take considerable time and money.
How Online Training Mitigates the Effects of Workplace Harassment
Online training, especially those designed around anti-harassment, serves as a proactive solution to address the issue head-on. It offers an accessible, cost-effective, and flexible means of equipping employees with the knowledge and skills necessary to identify, prevent, and respond to instances of harassment.
Provide interactive, engaging content that promotes active learning. Employees can interact with real-life scenarios, case studies, quizzes, and more. This helps them to understand not only the theoretical aspects of harassment but also how they manifest in day-to-day work situations. Such comprehensive understanding fosters empathy and brings about a shift in attitudes, cultivating a more respectful work environment.
Personalized content diverse needs of a workforce. Content can be customized to reflect the company's values, policies, and specific issues faced in the industry or even within the organization itself. This makes the training more relevant and impactful.
Modules that can be accessed anytime, anywhere. This removes the time and logistical constraints often associated with traditional, in-person training sessions. Such flexibility ensures more employees can take part in the training, reinforcing its importance across all levels of the organization.
Provide a safe space for learning. Employees can learn at their own pace, without the potential discomfort or pressure of in-person discussions on sensitive topics. This encourages more open participation and better absorption of the material.
Measure training progress using various tools and analytics. This allows companies to assess their employees' understanding of the issue and adjust their training strategies as needed. Regularly updating and refreshing the training material ensures that the fight against workplace harassment remains a top priority.
Creating or Implementing Online Anti-Harassment Courses
Preventing workplace harassment requires a multifaceted approach. You need to create clear-cut policies on conduct and an efficient process for investigating claims. It's important to foster an atmosphere where victims feel comfortable coming forward about any incidents. An online anti-harassment course is a valuable addition to your overall strategy for curbing this problem. Let's look at some of the crucial components to include in such a course.
- Defining Harassment: One of the course's purposes is to inform or remind everyone how common harassment is and the many forms it takes. It's important that both potential victims and potential violators are aware of your company's policies. Your course might show examples of harassment, either described or acted out.
- Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI): DEI has become a crucial element for a successful, respectful, and innovative work environment. These principles not only foster a fair, nurturing atmosphere but also drive creativity, collaboration, and productivity, resulting in increased business success. In fact, according to McKinsey, "Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians."
- Team and Power Dynamics: Another essential module of your anti-harassment course deals with effective team-building and team dynamics. Some people are natural leaders while others tend to hang back and not speak up as much. Nevertheless, it's important that everyone's voice is heard. Shy and less aggressive people also have valuable ideas. Sometimes, more assertive people will discourage their quieter teammates from speaking up by interrupting or dismissing their thoughts. This is a type of bullying that actually harms the business in a couple of ways. It makes the bullied workers feel that their voices aren't heard and it deprives the team of hearing their contributions.
These are a few components that can help to clarify your company's policies about harassment and to help reduce such incidents. The course should be tailored to your own particular needs based on your industry and company culture.
How to Get A Course Up and Running ASAP
It's true that some courses take time to create, prepare, and upload into a training platform.
However, with access to thousands of off-the-shelf courses, you could use streamlined integrations to import professionally made harassment courses into your training system in just a matter of hours.
If you don't need custom content, have never created harassment training yourself before, and would like to get something in front of your learners as soon as possible, this is the best move for you.
Talk with an eLearning consultant today to see how you can implement or optimize your harassment training courses!
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