Welcome to August’s edition of HR hot topics!
For those of you that read July’s edition, yes, I said I was going to stick around. While I have thought about selling the business, I’m not going anywhere just yet. I’m here again this month, and I want to talk to you about an article I received in my inbox last week from the Small Business Association of Michigan. By the way, if you’re not a member of that organization and are a small business, you’re really missing out. They’ve been a lifeline during Covid and continue to do small business updates twice a week on Facebook – they’re a great source for information!
Anyway, the title of the article caught my eye. A new study shows that men and women have significantly different beliefs as to what constitutes as sexual harassment. Well, ain’t that the truth? So, there was a study recently published and one of the key findings that drew my attention was roughly two thirds of men believe suggestive remarks are considered sexual harassment compared to 92% of women. And that’s just one example, right?
This article brought to mind the idea of anti harassment training. I know for many of you, this is something that has been or should be standard practice in your workplace. But with Covid, what was standard sort of fell by the wayside because we were focusing on the most immediate and urgent needs. Well, many of you are back in the workplace now or coming back into the workplace in person. And so the likelihood that you might have an incident increases. The other thing that’s happening this time of year are work-related social events, company picnics, and golf outings – things that we couldn’t do last year but can do now. People are excited to get together, and when alcohol is involved, that’s usually a recipe for disaster.
So for those reasons, I think that it bears repeating that anti harassment training is crucial in your workplace. It’s something you should be thinking about, especially this time of year. While you should have an anti harassment policy, typically those just outline and prohibit illegal behavior, and we all know things happen that might not rise to the threshold of harassment. And yet there’s still things that we don’t want in our workplace. I would put those in the bucket of inappropriate and unprofessional, but most of you don’t have any sort of written language around inappropriate or unprofessional conduct in the workplace.
I’m not encouraging you to create a list of all the things you can’t do. That’s the worst kind of policy you can make. What I’m encouraging you to do is not only take a look at your anti harassment policies, but take a look at any code of conduct policy that you might have and see if they’re even relatable to your work culture.
I recently worked with a business that has a very simple mission statement, which is “be awesome”, period. When I asked them about it, they explained to me it can mean be awesome in how we treat each other, be awesome in the quality of work, be awesome in how we treat our clients, etc. Believe it or not, much thought went into those two simple words, but none of that was written down anywhere. Management sort of understood it, but how do you communicate that to your team?
So I encourage you to do some work as a group and think about what you want your workplace culture to be like. How would you define it and put some language there. To me, that captures some of those situations the group doesn’t like but doesn’t rise to the level of harassment, which doesn’t mean we don’t address it.
If you had a more robust code of conduct, Dr. Culture or workplace expectation policy, then it could capture violations under that as well. I think you need to have both of these working simultaneously. It’s also a great opportunity to have a team building exercise, especially as you’re all coming back into the workplace face-to-face after perhaps having been out for a year or so. So for a lot of reasons, I would encourage you to start thinking about this idea right now.
Regardless of whether it’s the code of conduct or anti harassment policy, communication is key. You can have anything written down, but if you don’t tell your employees what it means, those written words won’t do you any good. So training is huge. If you’re looking for training on the anti harassment side, that’s something we offer. We had to adapt like many folks did, and we now offer this training not only in person but also online on demand which you can customize with your own policies and push out to your staff. There are built-in tests for comprehension and so much more!
We also developed a hybrid model to where we can do real time training, but we can do it virtually. So if you still have staff working remotely, or you’ve got folks that are out of state, we can still do that. Either way, training is big. And that’s another area this report highlighted – 90% report that after receiving training, they’re more aware of how to report an incident and are more likely to stay with the company. While 61% say the training makes them feel more productive in their role.
So, there you go folks. I think now is a really good time to reset, refocus, and prepare for what’s next.
Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you in September!