The Lloyd’s Register Foundation World Risk Poll is a fascinating, but concerning, look into global violence and harassment risk within the workplace. One in five people have experienced violence and harassment at work. Those most marginalized are women, migrant women, and those between the ages of fifteen to twenty-five years old. These stats include psychological, physical, and sexual violence or harassment.

Curbing this, falls to those in the HR department. They act as the “law” within a company, and they are responsible for ensuring the day-to-day safety and well-being of the company’s employees. HR personnel already have so much on their plates, how can they even begin to deal with workplace violence or harassment?

How To Avoid Perpetuating Violence and Harassment in the Workplace

Screen and Vet your Employees

A thorough screening and vetting process is the first step to avoid hiring those who may be violent or harass employees. Criminal record checks, integrity assessments, social media risk assessments, and a variety of other assessments will help you gain the true measure of your candidate. If you screen and vet your candidates properly, you’ll probably uncover their series of tweets, under a different username, that state unsavoury behaviour is justified in this or that convoluted way.

The screening and vetting process, done correctly, will aid your company in predicting what the workplace will be like if you hire this person, be it good or bad, these predictions will help you make informed decisions about the benefits and risks to your company and existing staff, of hiring a candidate. It is also recommended to adopt an In-Service Screening Policy that ensures that your existing employees are screened on a regular basis. This will allow you to record any changes in their status or circumstance.

Introduce a Zero Tolerance Policy

We hear a great deal of stories that feature unsympathetic HR personnel. The employee being harassed goes to HR to file a complaint, and HR belittles, brushes off, or justifies the bad behaviour of the harasser. This never fails to cause drama and make things worse.

All claims of violence or harassment need to be taken seriously and investigated. Protect your company by including a Zero Tolerance policy for violence, harassment, and the like, to allow you to act quickly when claims like this come to light.

Both parties need to be given a fair opportunity to explain themselves and you may need to employ other measures like reviewing video footage to confirm the exact sequence of events. However, it is probably better to be a company that reacts and investigates quickly and harshly, rather than being a company that allows and perpetuates violence or harassment with no recourse.

This Zero Tolerance policy must apply to every employee within the company, regardless of how senior their position is.

Ensure an Environment of Trust

If your employees know that you have their best interests at heart and you go to bat for them where necessary, they will trust you. An environment of trust starts with HR but needs to extend upward to the senior employees of a company too.

If employees know they are trusted and respected, the likelihood of them feeling similarly toward the company increases. This works in that either, they will respect the company enough to not behave badly, or if they are being harassed, they will trust the company enough to believe the company will deal with the situation.

Create a Workplace Culture of Mutual Respect

You could do this by publicly congratulating or acknowledging the day-to-day professional successes of your team. Appreciating employees publicly, psychologically instils value or worth in the minds of their colleagues, making colleagues less likely to act violently or harass their fellow colleagues. This tip, however, can backfire if you do not try to publicly appreciate each employee at least once and overdo your appreciation of a particular employee.

Humans have an evolutionary “Fair-O-Meter” that dings when things are not just and fair, so if you were to show favouritism to one or so specific employees, it’s likely their colleagues will dislike them to make things “fair” again.

So, use this tip carefully. 

All in all, ensuring violence and harassment do not occur in the workplace that you are responsible for, is complex and time consuming. The very best and simplest way to avoid it at all costs is to thoroughly screen and vet potential employees before they come on board.

iFacts offers a wide array of employee screening and vetting services to help you ensure you’ve hired the perfect candidate for the job.

Hire with confidence. Hire with iFacts.

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