4 Reasons to Consider Sexual Harassment Prevention Training, like Presenteeism

4 Reasons to Consider Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

From VHS tapes to interactive computer modules, sexual harassment training has been presented in a number of ways. Yet, workplace harassment remains a problem for many HR managers and businesses.  Movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp also bring greater attention to this persistent problem.  But if you’re meeting resistance to acquiring quality sexual harassment prevention training, we can help you make a case for in-house training before a claim is filed. Here we bring four reasons as to why your business needs to look at in-person training programs to bring meaningful behavioral change in the workplace.

Reduces Absenteeism and Presenteeism

In workplaces where workplace harassment is the norm, employee productivity decreases. Every employee involved with the harassment, whether directly or indirectly, is likely to experience mental health and physical issues. The result is absenteeism. It can also be the cause of presenteeism.  It’s when workers show up sick or work while they’re disengaged, making more mistakes, arriving late, leaving early, and producing a low standard of work. Beyond presenteeism, rumors spread creating an environment of negativity and a culture of disrespect.

 In the worst-case scenario, they may continue to work in spite of physical and mental issues that keep them from performing optimally.  Symptoms of presenteeism can be anxiety, depression, and even ADHD.  According to an American Productivity Audit, presenteeism is more costly than disability or absenteeism due to illness costing US businesses $150 billion per year.

Reduce Employee Turnover

Let’s say your workplace is unsafe and unhealthy with a high turnover rate. Online social networking sites like LinkedIn and Glassdoor allow potential candidates to spread the word faster than a wildfire. Nearly 70 percent of harassment situations go unreported to a business. Workers fear they won’t be believed, and somehow, may even be blamed. There is also social and professional retaliation when employees report these incidents. As a final recourse, employees leave for another position.

While employers may breathe a sigh of relief avoiding claims and litigation, the problem still exists for those left behind. Hiring the best talent becomes challenging when harassment disruptions occur. HR teams are tasked with a prolonged hiring and onboarding process costing businesses money and resources. Background information on potential candidates is no longer checks going back ten years. HR teams are now tasked with background investigations that are more rigorous, in-depth and historical. With sexual harassment prevention training, you can set the tone and expectations for the entire company.

Decrease Claims and Mitigate Risk
In 2018, employers paid $70 million in damages from harassment claims up from 47.5 million the previous year. Claims to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) doubled once the #MeToo movement went viral.  However, those numbers do not reflect the cases litigated by private attorneys. 

Job candidates and employees are more aware than ever of their rights and the trend is to hold businesses responsible. Employees document more, record more, and vocalize more. It stands to reason a workplace rife with sexual harassment, even when it’s not called to management’s attention, is a liability.

Protect Your Brand and Image
As businesses take a closer look at their risk of exposure in the wake of the #metoo movement,  they’re finding that consumers want to patronize companies with reputations for being good to their employees as well as their customers.  When Uber’s many issues with sexual harassment issues were exposed and reported in 2017, their stock, sales, and consumer loyalty plummeted.

As a business owner, ask yourself what you want your company to be known for?  Are your company’s core values still relevant in the aftermath of the #metoo movement? Are they relevant enough to use as a guide in building a brand that recognizes respect and safety for everyone?

History has proven that businesses are reluctant to provide anything but a minimal amount of time, effort, and money into their sexual harassment prevention training.  However, it’s like placing a band-aid on a broken leg, it doesn’t address the common problem of how employees behave towards one another. Case law suggests companies are not well served with off-the-shelf harassment training and that if an organization does not invest in bespoke training, they might as well save their money.

Even if you’re sure your business has no harassment issues, employees want to know that they are working in a safe and respectful environment.  Online computer modules and videos only scratch the surface.  Open conversations about having awareness and deeper respect for each other’s boundaries are required to get to the root of the issue. And to achieve that, in-person conversations and training about sexual harassment prevention is the clearest way to encourage understanding and inclusivity.

Tags: Presenteeism

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