According to a survey by Vault Platform, 75% of U.S. office workers have experienced or witnessed some form of workplace misconduct during their working lives. The prevalence of this issue means that organizations need to prioritize their harassment prevention efforts to better protect their employees and avoid financial or reputational damage. But harassment prevention is more than just a compliance activity—educating employees on harassment prevention can also help organizations build and maintain a more inclusive, vibrant and positive workplace culture. The benefits can be wide-ranging:
- Lower levels of misconduct: By establishing parameters for what is and is not acceptable behavior, harassment prevention policies and related education and training provide clarity for employees about how they must conduct themselves in the workplace. According to the EEOC, “Regular, interactive, comprehensive training of all employees may help ensure that the workforce understands organizational rules, policies, procedures, and expectations, as well as the consequences of misconduct.”
- Minimize financial and legal risks: Consider that workplace misconduct, including harassment, cost the U.S. economy $8.54 billion in one year alone. According to Kevin O’Connor, a principal at employment law firm Littler, policies, education and training can “protect your company from claims for punitive damages,” and provide a “huge element of proof and effectiveness when you have to show that you have done all that you could to prevent and correct the harassment.”
- Create a culture of respect, fairness and inclusivity: Beyond simply avoiding incidents of misconduct, harassment prevention and the education that goes with it, is an opportunity to solidify and reinforce a company’s core values, such as being fair, respectful and understanding with each other, being inclusive and fostering a sense of belonging. It is yet another touchpoint where organizations can connect to employees and involve them in creating a more positive work culture that benefits everyone.
- Attract and retain employees: According to Pew Research, 57% of employees who quit did so because they felt disrespected. Because harassment prevention is about building greater respect, appreciation and understanding, it helps to build a positive and inclusive culture that both attracts and retains employees. This kind of culture that can make an organization “an employer of choice.” Consider that 80% of respondents in a Deloitte study said that inclusion is important when choosing an employer.