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Foster Respect in the Workplace to Prevent Hostile Work Environments

In January of 2015, the EEOC created a select task force to study harassment in the workplace. The study was led by Co-Chairs Chai Feldblum and Victoria Lipnic. The Co-Chairs released their findings in a report in June, 2016. Below are some of the key findings and suggestions for creating respectful workplaces.

Current Training Programs Aren’t Working – For the past 30 years, training has been focused on avoiding legal liability. Feldblum and Lipnic believe that effective training can reduce workplace harassment but ineffective training is unhelpful and perhaps even counterproductive. Training must change!

The Majority of Harassment Issues Are Never Reported Nearly 90,000 charges of harassment were received by the EEOC in 2015, yet the report estimates that 75% of employees who have experienced harassment never even talked about it to a supervisor, manager or union representative.

The Potential Cost of Workplace Harassment is Staggering In 2015, the EEOC recovered 164.5 million dollars for workers alleging harassment. As a business leader, if you consider this overwhelming number you will come to realize that these are only the direct costs. They don’t consider the costs of productivity lost due to the psychological effects on the employees and the culture.

What’s An Employer to Do?

Create a Culture That Emphasizes Respect, Civility, and Compassion – Build these attributes into the core values, core purpose, mission, vision, and other components that define your culture. Teach your employees how to approach every situation from a perspective of respect.

Leaders Must Take Ownership of the Situation and Assure Accountability – As with all Culture initiatives, company leaders must take the issue seriously and become a vocal champion against harassment. Reinforce the tenants of the culture you’ve created and make it clear that harassment will not be tolerated.

Revise Current Training Programs – Training must be tailored to the specific workforce and workplace. In addition, Feldblum and Lipnic advise that training bystanders on how to intervene if they are witness to harassment shows promise for harassment prevention.

The costs of hostile work environments are astronomical. SERPEO can help! We partner with client companies to help them create solutions to address a variety of human resource concerns.

To see the full report by the EEOC, visit: https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/task_force/harassment/

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