5 Tips to Help Create a Safe Work Environment
Since before 2018 even began, you could not turn on the television, radio, or computer without hearing news of another person falling victim to harassment in the workplace. The #metoo movement is long overdue. However, it is now taking the world by storm. A conversation that should have occurred in every workplace for decades is now happening consistently. The idea of a safe work environment is not new. However, it can be guaranteed that this idea is not going anywhere any time soon. Employees, as well as employers, are taking notice of issues that may have been swept under the rug or laughed off in the past. Here are five tips to help make sure you are creating a safe and inclusive work environment.
Create Clear Guidelines in the Employee Handbook
Your employee handbook is your company’s manual regarding acceptable and expected workplace behavior and responsibilities. You have clear guidelines regarding vacation time, sick leave, job expectations, computer usage, and many other expectations involved in working within your company. Therefore, a section regarding acceptable behavior and what would constitute harassment is a natural fit. Do not be afraid to draw a line and put it in writing for employees to see and understand.
Conduct Mandatory Harassment Training
Having a clear outline of expectations is a great start. However, studies prove that not all people learn in the same manner. Some people will understand what is and what is not acceptable by reading it. Others require examples. Rather than assuming everyone is on the same page, be proactive. Host employee harassment training on a regular basis, as recommended and provided by experts in the field. Make sure to give employees plenty of notice so they can schedule accordingly. Make sure you, as the boss, attend the training as well, letting people know that no one is exempt.
Have an Open Door Policy
Having an open door policy is key to helping employees feel comfortable reporting harassment issues. However, this open door refers to HR, as opposed to management. Since management can be guilty of harassment in the same manner as any other employee, the proper department to field complaints is your HR department. Make sure your HR department is properly trained to handle such issues and deal with complaints appropriately.
Be Fair to All Employees
Let employees know that there are no favorites. Make sure your policies are fair to all employees, no matter their gender, race, religion, orientation, or how long they have been with the company. In order for your employees to be on board with a safe work environment, they must believe that their feelings are as important as anyone else within the company.
There Are No Exceptions
The truth is that many have laughed at an off-color joke. Make have hung a comic in their workspace that depicts men and women in unflattering lights. Many have used derogatory or sexual pronouns when referring to their friends and co-workers. Yet, until now, many laughed it off. Many did not pay attention to the one or two individuals in the room who showed signs of being offended. No matter how funny or “normal” the comments may seem, there are no exceptions. If a person feels harassed, it must be addressed according to the rules set forth by the law and your employee manual.