The policies and ethics and standards of behaviour concerning workplace sexual harassments have been part of organisations for several decades now. However, even though many countries have taken the required legal action to stop sexual harassment, it still finds its way to go unnoticed.
A large part of this is because organisations consider workplace sexual harassment to be implied and understood by all their staff members. As such, they don’t discuss or talk about this issue, let alone take the necessary steps to raise awareness and promote a safe working environment.
Consequently, sexual harassment is still rampant in the professional world, which is why talking about sexual harassment at the workplace is crucial.
This article can help you gain more insight into how it affects your employees and what you can do to prevent or stop it.
How workplace sexual harassment affects employees
Being a victim of sexual harassment and going through such a traumatic experience isn’t easy for anyone. Naturally, if any employee of an organisation become victims of sexual harassment while at work, it is bound to affect other parts of their lives.
Here’s how workplace sexual harassment affects employees:
First, sexual harassment dramatically affects the general wellbeing of an individual. Increased stress and anxiety are a part of their daily routine as they come to work every morning not knowing what to expect and what they’ll have to endure. Having to cope with so much stress every day for an indefinite amount of time leads to more prominent and more serious mental health issues. Depression and loss of self-confidence are just some of the consequences your employees will experience after a traumatic event.
● Employee engagement
Closely connected to the previous point, employees who have gone through any workplace sexual harassment tend to shut themselves out and shy away from any form of engagement. For example, staff members who were once active, communicative, and engaging will suddenly change their behavior after experiencing an embarrassing or uncomfortable event. Stress, anxiety, loss of self-confidence, and depression can all decrease employment engagement too, which is why employers are reminded to keep track of employee engagement and note if any changes occur.
Whether the rest of a team is aware about the occurrence of the sexual harassment, there will be small or big changes in the work environment and how all your employees generally behave. Even in a hybrid setting where teams spend a considerable part of their day together, individuals can easily affect other employees’ moods, both positively and negatively. So, workplace sexual harassment often creates a toxic environment and mutual dissatisfaction among team members, which can spark disagreements, unproductivity, and overall unhappiness.
Ultimately, all this hurts professional performance. Essentially, if any of your employees have encountered sexual harassment during work, this will strongly affect their professional contribution, motivation, and commitment. They would no longer be engaged in their tasks with energy, curiosity, and passion, but will rather do things without enthusiasm or effort. A significant drop in performance can cost your company a lot of time and money, which can easily be avoided by taking care of your employees.
How to effectively combat workplace sexual harassment
To prevent this from happening, organisations need to take the necessary steps and ensure their employees are aware of their rights, capable of combating harassment attempts, and finally, informed about what they need to do in these situations.
Organisations can effectively combat sexual harassment in the workplace in several ways. Some of them are:
● Educate staff
In most organisations, employees simply don’t know what they should do in the event of sexual harassment or what constitutes sexual harassment. A workplace harassment training course can ensure all your employees are familiar with the workplace policies, ethics and their rights, which will allow them to combat harassment attempts effectively and efficiently. Although a workplace harassment training course requires a lot of resources, it’s worth investing in. With an online sexual harassment training course, you can provide your employees with all the benefits that come with regular courses, but at a much better price. Furthermore, online sexual harassment training courses offer more flexibility and customisation than traditional ones do, especially in the current hybrid work context.
● Promote positive environment
As leaders, every employer needs to do their part in promoting a positive and productive working environment among their employees. When you set a clear example and show how your employees should behave in a work setting, you are likely to minimise the chances of sexual harassment ever occurring, and this can influence your employees to behave professionally. As opposed to this, business owners who don’t promote positivity and productivity usually have to deal with more sexual harassment incidents.
● Show dedication and support
Being present, showing your dedication, and supporting your employees all affect their self-confidence and how they’ll react to sexual harassment attempts in the workplace, whether they’re online or in-person. With approachable, supportive and friendly employers, employees will come forward more easily. Even if you can’t be with your staff every day, there are other ways of supporting them. Organising training programs and promoting a pleasant work environment are just some of the examples.
● Be consistent
Finally, it’s not enough to perform these actions once and consider them complete. Your employees will need a lot of time and constant support before feeling ready to come forward with their or their colleague’s experiences.
So, be consistent and always remind your staff about the workplace policies, ethics and their rights as diligent workers.
All in all, effectively addressing sexual harassment at the workplace is vital if you want to maintain a certain level of professionalism as well as keep your employees safe and happy. Workplace sexual harassment can go unnoticed for a long time, which is why it’s important to find various ways to prevent and combat it early on.