Let’s look at the latest research
Did you know that 75% of office workers have either personally experienced or witnessed some form of workplace misconduct during their working lives? That’s a shocking statistic, but there are ways for organizations to help keep their employees safe. For instance, research shows that with proper follow-up and reinforcement, bystander intervention can be an important addition to harassment prevention training—and a powerful tool when woven together.
It’s one of the reasons that Bystander Intervention has always been a key element of Kantola’s award-winning Harassment Prevention courses. And it’s why we’ve heightened our commitment to this type of learning by creating a standalone Bystander Intervention course that is complementary to our foundational Harassment Prevention training.
Why this learning combination is so powerful
While harassment prevention training fortifies workers with the knowledge they need to spot harassment, bystander training becomes the actionable takeaway. That means learners will not only be able to recognize the problem, they will know how to take action.
And there’s another important factor at work with this powerful combination. It creates an opportunity for greater unity among your employees. When everyone becomes engaged in spotting harassing behavior, no one is automatically targeted as a victim or a harasser. People are emboldened to step in to help because they are part of solving the problem—not part of creating it.
It’s one thing to understand the various forms and nuances of harassment in the workplace, but knowing what to do when we witness these events can make all the difference.
Deconstructing bystander intervention
At Kantola, we think it’s useful to use a framework termed: “The four Ds”
- Direct Intervention: Address the situation and state that it is not okay
- Distract: Draw attention away from the situation
- Delegate: Bring in another person to help
- Delayed Support: After the situation has passed, offer support or feedback
Each of these steps represent that critical ingredient to the mix that can significantly impact the outcome, and the difference between an active bystander or a passive witness.
Once the idea of intervention is considered standard, it fosters an atmosphere where people feel safe and comfortable. And in a time when employees are prioritizing mental health and seeking a positive workplace culture, bystander intervention could be just the vehicle to help your organization meet those expectations.
Organizational outcomes you can expect
- Creates constructive action: Harassment Prevention training, when done well, will help workers to realize harassment in real time. And not just the obvious, but the more nuanced and grey areas, too. Adding a supplemental Bystander Intervention course will leave your employees feeling like they can be a part of a solution, instead of simply acknowledging the problem.
- Offers practical takeaways: Bystander Intervention training is a practical way of minimizing harassment in the workplace. When it becomes the norm to speak up, behaviors will begin to shift accordingly and ultimately begin to seep into the work culture entirely.
- Fosters inclusion: Because people will feel empowered to provide support when necessary, the training outcome will feel inclusive. It takes away the idea of the harasser and the victim, and instead assumes the good in one another. As New York Magazine puts it: “Bystander intervention tools work because they’re simply guidance on how people can take care of people.”
- Provides more information: At the very basic level, supplementing your harassment prevention training with an additional course focused solely on bystander intervention will allow the learner more time to understand what they’re looking for. According to Harvard Business Review, bystanders might fail to intervene because they either don’t recognize the aggression, or they don’t see it as problematic. Education can be the single difference between behavior spreading throughout the entire organization, or being stopped when it first appears.
We know culture change is hard—and taking the first step can seem daunting. And yet, culture change is exactly why bystander intervention training can be powerful: the approach recognizes that, when it comes to the workplace, every employee is responsible for creating an environment of safety.
Kantola is an innovative eLearning company focused on diversity, equity, & inclusion and harassment prevention. We are committed to helping organizations make their workplaces better, for everyone—through world-class training solutions that change perspectives, achieve compliance and elevate culture.