Workplace harassment is real! The number of harassment cases at workplaces is seeing a steep rise these days thus, putting in the question how organizations treat their employees.

Workplace discrimination and harassment complaints are undoubtedly the most difficult and sensitive issues for HR personnel. Whenever an HR department receives a discrimination or harassment complaint, it ought to take prompt and sound actions to resolve the same in an unprejudiced manner.

Confidentiality is the most difficult aspect when it comes to dealing with workplace harassment complaints. Yes, all the information shared by the employee (complainant) to the HR personnel ought to be kept confidential. Proper steps must be undertaken to tackle the complaint. There has to be a thorough investigation for the claim, which might include disclosing the employee’s confidential details as well.

Also read: Workplace Bullying and the Role of HR

How HR can help?

What if the complainant solicits that no action be taken for investigating his/her claim of discrimination or harassment? Now, this is a challenging situation for HR. Whilst the HR department ought to consider the request of employees, it also has a responsibility toward the organization and its people to investigate all such complaints thoroughly. Investing in harassment or discrimination claims usually involves other managers and employees as well.

Thus, HR ought to refrain from assuring complete confidentiality to the complainant. Nevertheless, the HR department can assure the complainant that any confidential information will be shared only on exclusive need-to-know scenarios.

Sexual harassment at workplaces is the most sensitive of all. Here, HR ought to make the employees feel at home and that they can approach the department at any point in case of sexual harassment. They should also ensure that such complaints would be dealt with utmost professionalism, confidentiality, and sensitivity.

Preventative Actions:

To avert such kind of workplace problems, HR ought to consider a few preventative measures as follows:

     1. Have a clear-cut harassment protocol: Draft and circulate a clear workplace policy on harassment and discrimination. Employee onboarding is the best time to make these policies clear to your employees. Having a cloud-based HRMS software can be handy here, as it would help the HR department in circulating such policies to all the employees in no time.

     2. Establish clear procedures to deal with harassment: Have a clear and hassle-free procedure for filing harassment complaints for your employees. It is equally imperative to outline the process these claims will be investigated.

     3. Train your people from top to bottom: It is important that all your employees know that they have the right to work in harassment and discrimination-free environment. Also, they ought to fully acknowledge the organization’s policies and protocols on dealing with such issues.

Workplace harassment and discrimination are painful to employees and organizations as well. Having clear procedures in place will help HR to tackle such issues in a smooth and unbiased manner.

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