If you are an employer, it is vital that you do everything you can to ensure that you have clearly set out your expectations of your employees’ behaviour and conduct in the workplace. For example:
- You can ensure that there is a sound grounding to prevent an incident with a comprehensive diversity and equality policy and anti-bullying and harassment policy. These policies should include an explanation about what behaviours and comments are not acceptable.
- You should also have a clear and accessible grievance procedure for those who need to raise an issue.
- However, quite often, employees do not necessarily take the time to review these internal policies, therefore, it is extremely advisable to ensure that these policies are supported by full and comprehensive training programmes for all staff.
- To reassure the many people that don’t report harassment, it is absolutely essential your employees can trust their management to handle concerns sympathetically. Complete confidentiality might not always be an option, but your employees should be made aware in your company’s policy, how an investigation is likely to proceed should they report an incident.
- You should also offer support to all individuals involved and encourage an environment of openness as it could help to diffuse the situation. Depending on the nature and severity of the allegations, mediation can be a good way to mend the relationship between two members of staff, with the offer of additional training for the perpetrator and counselling for those finding the situation difficult. If these steps are offered and taken up early on, then they can help to salvage the working relationship before matters deteriorate further.
If an incident is not dealt with sensitively, the reputation of a company could be severely damaged, morale could take a nosedive, absences could soar, highly-skilled people could leave and there could be huge cost to the company if an aggrieved individual decides to sue. They could have a good case against their employer, particularly if there was no equality and diversity policy and training in the first place. It is therefore best to prevent bullying and harassment from the outset by implementing those key policies mentioned above and undertaking the training, which should be delivered to everyone from the top to bottom of the organisation.