What helps keep employees motivated and engaged is when they work in a healthy and positive work environment. However, despite a lot of efforts that go into improving workplace environment, some organisations still report workplace harassment. A few call this misconduct on part of some rogue employees while others feel it is a lack of actively making workplaces safe for employees vis-à-vis awareness of harassment policies that results in an increase in the number of harassment cases at an office.
How then can organisations make their employees feel safe and protected against any kind of harassment, whether sexual or verbal or for that matter even stalking?
Employees must know the difference between being bullied and harassed (sexually, physically or psychologically) at work. Define each with examples so that they feel reassured that they are being taken care of. Often times they don’t report harassment cases thinking it is nothing ‘grave’. To make them aware of what harassment constitutes every organization must have policies in place. There must not be any gray areas. Employees deserve a positive work environment. It is the responsibility of the management to ensure that all policies are available on the intranet for ease of access. It helps to have a reference document and be able to understand what is happening around them. Besides, it is the duty of not just the HR, but every department head to urge employees, whether a new joinee or someone who is about to retire to give it a good read.
Hear your employees
Being ‘judged’ is one of the reasons many employees shudder from filing complaints with the HR. Harassment is still a social taboo in India. Despite the level of awareness, thanks to mass media, people still feel that fingers will not be pointed at the perpetrator. According to a survey conducted by an NGO, across various sectors and major cities, 68.9% of the victims did not step forward to complain about the sexual harassment “because of fear, embarrassment, lack of confidence in complaint mechanism, unawareness and due to the stigma attached to sexual harassment.” In fact, what makes the situation grim is “65.2% companies did not follow a proper process under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2013.”
Strict actions against perpetrators
Organisations must welcome every employee who wants to talk or report such cases. A proper investigation must be conducted and strict actions taken against the perpetrators. It is an excellent idea to keep reinforcing the policies and let everyone know the consequences should they breach these policies and cause any aberrations in positive work environment. Often times, culprits get away. They are let off with a warning or nothing at all if the perpetrator is an authority figure. But, this can be devastating for the victims so much so that it leaves a dent in their confidence. They are probably even cPperpetrators must be pinned down. This sets out as an example for all those who think they can get away unhurt.
Did you know: The Sexual Harassment at Workplace (prevention, prohibition, and redressal) Act came into effect on April 23, 2013. However, nothing much has been done for its implementation. Only last year in December, the Centre reduced the deadline for completing inquiries into sexual harassment complaints to 30 days, which under the sexual harassment at workplace law was 90 days.