A major study conducted last year found that nearly one in five US employees report receiving abuse and harassment at work, either from co-workers or customers.  It’s most prevalent in young men without a college degree, with more than 35% reporting abuse, humiliation, unwanted sexual attention or bullying within the past month.

If this behavior is happening at your company, it’s quickly flushing your most experienced employees out of the company.  The same study found that workers over the age of 35 are much less likely to be satisfied with their job if they reported any abuse or harassment.  While younger people might tolerate it early in their career, more experienced employees simply become actively disengaged from their jobs.

How do you keep this bad behavior from happening?  A proactive investigation team can encourage victims to come forward and punish the perpetrators.  But it’s obviously better if issues like this can be prevented rather than addressed after the fact.

Here are three interventions that are proven to help reduce this type of behavior:

  1. Don’t Make It a Checkbox: Up until the #MeToo movement, many people felt like the point of harassment training was to check a box that might protect the company from a lawsuit. Employees need to understand that it’s much more than that. It is necessary to keep the best employees at the company.  It’s necessary to protect the brand’s long-term reputation.  It’s a responsibility that HR takes seriously to not allow lives to be ruined.  If employees believe these things, they won’t assume the company is providing training because they ‘have to’.
  2. Be Transparent: Of course, it’s important to be (prudently) transparent about the investigation process when people report misbehavior. But it’s also important for the company to discuss the fact that investigations have led to terminations at senior levels if that has in fact has happened. If witnesses don’t believe their actions will matter, they don’t report bad behavior.  And if abusive employees don’t think they’ll face consequences, they’ll make life miserable for their co-workers.
  3. Don’t Tolerate It: The people that feel most empowered to harass other people are those that think they’re too important to be fired.  The blatantly narcissistic actions of CEOs like Travis Kalanick, Steve Jobs, and Elon Musk point to the fact that they didn’t (or don’t) believe they could be removed from their respective companies.  Don’t let anyone be too important to be fired, and don’t let anyone think they’re too important to be fired.

To learn how CMTS:HR can help your company handle investigations with less hassle and less risk, call us at 855-636-5361 or email us at Team_CMTSHR@CMTSHR.com.