How to prevent workplace harassment in these three steps

An employer is legally obligated by both Occupational Health and Safety and anti-discrimination laws to create a safe workplace. There are three steps your business can implement that can reduce the likelihood of toxic behaviour from occurring.

Harassment is a common problem in the Australian workplace.Harassment is something that can be prevented with a solid anti-harassment policy and effective communication of the policy.

1) Write a clear policy 

First, HR Daily Advisor writes that it helps to get human resources and legal consultants to ensure that your anti-harassment policy complies with current legislation. One of the most important things to communicate in the policy is how to file a complaint. The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission states that an effective equal opportunity policy will establish what harassment is and isn't in clear and simple terms.

After the policy has been finalised, place the policy in every employee handbook. Get employees to sign off that they've read it to increase accountability. 

It can help if the HR team periodically reviews the policy to make sure that it's up to date and that HR remains familiarised with the policy.

2) Communicate the policy regularly 

The Australian Human Rights Commission writes that fulfilling the minimum legal requirements is inadequate for preventing harassment. As an employer, you should strive for best practice.

Fulfilling the minimum legal requirements for preventing harassment is inadequate.

So, just writing out the policy is not enough. Employers need to proactively educate employees by sending out frequent newsletters, putting up bulletins on the topic, holding meetings about it and directing employees to the formal code of conduct policy.

Schedule regular harassment training and retraining at least once a year. (Note that in some states, training is mandatory). 

3) Respond to complaints effectively 

Timeliness, consistency and confidentiality are of the utmost importance when dealing with harassment cases. 

Clear documentation is also very important. Make sure a complaint is recorded in its entirety and in the same way every time. 

You should know how to respond to informal complaints, as well. Inform the employees how to file a formal complaint once the harassment is brought to your attention. 

Lastly, assure the complainant that they will not be victimised or disadvantaged for making this confession. 

Finding out how to respond to inappropriate behaviour in the office can be difficult. Flexi Personnel has experienced HR Consultants who can assist you to write a clear policy, educate your employees, prepare you for dealing with a harassment complaint and assist you on how to best take action.