Many organisations report that trying to prevent harassment at work presents a huge challenge. However, similar to many other challenges, breaking the whole into more manageable actions can provide the first step to effective prevention.
(1) Be aware of the risks and have measures in place to control them e.g. policies and procedures –
- Ensure the policies are simple and effective
- Prepare them in consultation with the employees and with the support of top management
- Seek external advice if necessary
- Review them regularly, especially if an incident has occurred, seeking management and employee involvement as to what could be altered to prevent a recurrence e.g. staff surveys, staff meetings
(2) Ensure all current and future employees are aware of the rules regarding appropriate behaviour and that the expected organisational standards and values are available to all staff in written form.
(3) Increase awareness of how to recognise harassment, its effect and where to get more information.
(4) Encourage a participatory management style and support close teamwork –
- cultivate good communication between management and staff
- clearly define and describe job roles
- identify the criteria and rules for promotion
- encourage a workplace culture which emphasises management commitment to employee’s well-being, safe working conditions and to have open consultation on these matters between management and employees
(5) Promote a culture that condemns harassment and recognises it as an issue. Explain HR policies clearly and apply them fairly across the board; and as far as is possible try to avoid job insecurity and sudden organisational change.
(6) Carry out a risk assessment to re-assess all the factors which could lead to harassment and consider if your preventative measures are adequate.
(7) Train managers in how to handle conflict and communication and the actions they are required to take if an incident occurs.
(8) Prepare a list of sources for advice and support.
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