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What I Learned from Harassment Training

Feb 26, 2020 | HR Services

By Shana Gerson, PHR

Yes, Even a Trainer can Learn from Her Class

As an HR professional, I am constantly challenged in my role, but I love my job for many reasons. People are always challenging me and forcing me to look at things in a different way. I have conducted harassment training at least a dozen times over the course of my career and truly believe it’s one of the most important topics for managers and employees. My last session was very enlightening. The employees pushed me to teach this sensitive subject in a different way. Thank you for opening my eyes.

It’s About Respect

I learned the word respect resonates with every employee. While teaching this class, it’s important to note situations can be gray and the level of tolerance with each person is different. Many employees in the class were caught up in the black and white nature of harassment. How do we really know the if the action is truly sexual harassment or harassment? The act itself means different things to different people. So how do we teach this gray area? By teaching them the act of respect.

These employees learned a valuable lesson- respect is the key to making us all feel valuable and heard as employees. If you have to ask yourself, “is this type of behavior a form of harassment?”, chances are it could be. When in doubt, refrain from saying or doing things that might be taken as harassment. We should not concentrate on the word harassment, we should ask ourselves if we are being respectful towards our fellow co-workers. If we don’t feel respected, our engagement, morale, commitment and team work goes down. Never make jokes or comment about someone’s age, race, national origin and gender. All of us bring different ideas and perspectives into the workforce, let’s celebrate our co-worker’s ideas and perspective rather than concentrating on their outside appearance.

Do You Know The Real Cost of Harassment?

The real cost of disrespect and harassment is more than you may think. Harassment and disrespect = disengagement. What is the real cost of disengagement? Having a disengaged workforce can cost up to $2,000 per year per employee. The Gallup Organization estimates that there are 22 million actively disengaged employees costing the American economy as much as $350 billion dollars per year in lost productivity including absenteeism, illness, and other problems that result when employees are unhappy at work. This doesn’t include the cost of lawsuits. Sexual harassment and harassment claims are some of the highest paid employment claims. On average claims can range from $53,000-125,000.

Why You Should Invest

In conclusion, I believe every organization should invest in their harassment training programs. We owe it to our employees to have a safe, respectful environment to work and thrive in. When was the last time you had this kind of training? Or have you ever had this kind of training? Think of it as an investment in your people, you are teaching them to work and thrive with everyone in the workforce. A valuable lesson that can take your organization to new heights.

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