3 Reasons Why Your Company Needs Workplace Harassment Prevention Training

One study estimated that, for each employee who was sexually harassed in the workplace, a company loses an average of $22,500. This was solely related to lost productivity. In other words, even in states where harassment prevention training isn’t legally required, sexual harassment prevention needs to be taken very seriously. Taking action now helps your organization avoid situations that can lead to lost productivity, lost goodwill, lost business, legal expenses, and a variety of other negative consequences.

If the harassment does take place, the severity or frequency of the harassment (even if it’s a one-time event) demands attention. All types of harassment from ageism to bullying need to be dealt with as soon as possible. If harassment claims become public, your company’s reputation and employee morale can be negatively impacted. You can never just hope for these stories to “blow over,” especially considering that news stories are being archived on the internet for years into the future.

The impact of even one incident of harassment is why your company needs harassment prevention training. From small to medium-sized businesses (for whom harassment claims can be devastating) to companies with thousands of employees, each and every team member must be provided with harassment prevention tools and knowledge.

These states currently require companies to conduct sexual harassment prevention training for employees:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont

Legal requirements vary from state to state, and are dependent on a variety of factors. You can download a free State-By-State guide to harassment prevention requirements, here. It’s important to realize that even if you operate in a state that does not legally require this training, it is highly recommended that you still conduct it. This training is essential in three key ways:

Every Trained Employee Helps Create A Safer Environment

Teaching formal sexual harassment prevention training can help reduce the likelihood of an incident occurring. This allows all of your employees to learn everything there is to know about creating an inclusive and supportive work environment.

It’s important to realize that enacting policies is a good first step, but that the employees are human. Providing excellent training that includes role-play scenarios that depict harassment in all forms helps every team member identify harassment and (hopefully) avoid it. That means depicting not only sexual harassment, but discrimination based on disabilities. it means demonstrating how romantic relationships can lead to quid pro quo situations.

Well-trained employees contribute to an environment in which every contributor can support the company’s goals with his or her best skills, talent and knowledge. Helping prevent harassment is really everyone’s job.

Trained Employees Know How To Handle Harassment The Right Way

It is imperative that every employee knows what to do if they are being harassed by a coworker. Victims of sexual harassment may keep the incident to themselves. But if these employees know about how to deal with sexual harassment beforehand, they will be more likely to speak up and take action to stop the harassment before it negatively impacts the organization.

An important component of today’s best harassment training programs is Bystander Education. Employees that witness harassment must be educated on how to handle the situation effectively. The best-case scenario in the event of a witness to harassment is immediate reporting. Simply put, if they see something, they should say something. Providing proactive training means your team knows how to handle things the right way.

Avoiding Public Relations Challenges

Despite providing harassment prevention training, harassment can still happen. Fortunately, providing harassment prevention to employees can provide some mitigation of this risk. Therefore, if sexual harassment were to happen in some way in your company, employees, the media and your team knows that the company values and protects employee rights. Establishing policies and providing excellent training gives you the strength of showing you have protected your team and will continue to do so.

Your company needs harassment prevention training that will support your culture and ongoing efforts to create an inclusive workplace. The right training will help your team members see that their needs and contributions are valued above all else.

Provide Harassment Prevention Training – Even if the Law Doesn’t Require It

It’s time to create a culture where each employee has the opportunity to excel, without the distraction and stress of bullying or harassment. Sexual harassment should never go unnoticed in the workplace. That is why you need to take measures to implement a sexual harassment prevention program. It will make it clear to people inside and outside the company that your employees will follow your rules.

With harassment prevention training in place for every current employee, every supervisor and every new hire, you can teach your employees what actions are appropriate. Your company needs harassment prevention training that you can trust. The Respectful Workplace harassment prevention eLearning will bring your company into full legal compliance (no matter what state(s) you operate in, as well as offering a highly memorable and effective training program that includes powerful “choose your own outcome” quizzes.

RELATED: Different Types of Workplace Harassment

harassment prevention state by state guide

About the Author Jennifer Orechwa

With over 25 years in the industry, and now as IRI's Director of Business Development, Jennifer has gained a unique perspective on what it takes to build a culture of engagement. By blending a deep understanding of labor and employee relations with powerful digital marketing knowledge, Jennifer has helped thousands of companies achieve behavioral change at a cultural level.

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