The 5 “C”s for Preventing Harassment in Your Workplace

The 5 "C"s for Preventing Harassment in Your Workplace

The sickening thing about workplace harassment is that no matter how insanely whistle-while-you-work-happy your employees are, how many amazing benefits you give them, or how magical and fairytale-esque your office vibe - IT CAN STILL HAPPEN. How? It’s all about perception, let me explain; what I find offensive you may think is completely appropriate and vice-versa.  You think that joke you made in the break room about the priest the rabbi and the monk was totally innocent and yet I’m already dialing my lawyer.  There is no standard for harassment; it’s in the eye of the beholder. So how do you combat something you cannot define?

Here are my 5 “C”s for handling harassment in the workplace:

  1. Create a policy – You do NOT want to be reinventing the wheel on each time harassment rears its ugly head. The best way to be prepared is to have a clear “no-tolerance” Harassment Policy in your Employee Manual. If you need help with creating one of these don’t be shy, I have some great tips to share with you.
  2. Communicate it – Once you’ve come up with a policy you are happy with you NEED to communicate it to your employees. The Employee Manual is an essential first step but realistically, most new hires breeze through the manual and easily forget its contents.  The best way to make sure everyone is on the same page is to train your managers, supervisors and staff on your anti-harassment policy.  The more you drive it home the less likely you will have conflict over what is and is not acceptable.
  3. Complaint Procedure – So everyone knows that harassment WILL NOT be tolerated. Great. Do your employees know what to do when they have a complaint? Do they know who they should voice their concerns to? Do your managers and supervisors know what to do once they’ve received a complaint or become aware of a problem? Your Harassment Policy does nothing for you if there is no clear procedure.
  4. Conduct Impartial Investigations – Ok, you’ve had a complaint, bummer. How you handle the investigation process is crucial; here are some important points:
    • The alleged harasser should have zero control over the investigation – directly or indirectly
    • Interview all parties; the employee making the complaint, the alleged harasser, and anyone else who may have relevant information
    • Determine if harassment is still on-going and take steps to make sure it is not continued as you make your way through the investigation process.
  5. Correct It! - Perhaps easier said than done but if you are able to determine that harassment has occurred you are responsible for correcting the problem.  Turn to your disciplinary policy – hint this should state what possible actions you may take in the event of harassment.  Having this already spelled out makes it easier to administer with fewer questions/conflict and less chance of an employee challenging your decision.

If you need a hand establishing or managing your policies I’m happy to help; 877-352-2121 X285 or

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