Stop, Look and Listen: How to Create a Safe Space for Employees

04.27.18Baylee Olsen

As a result of the #MeToo Movement, we are seeing a large increase in reports of harassment in the workplace.

If you’re a business owner with 5 or 500 employees, it is essential to consistently instill in your culture and your employees the benefits of coming forward and not being silent.

Lessons taught in kindergarten often carry through most situations and STOP, LOOK AND LISTEN is no exception. Employers must:

  • STOP any behavior, environment, and culture which promotes, fosters or enables harassment
  • LOOK to immediately make necessary changes to strengthen policies and culture which reflect zero tolerance, and most importantly
  • LISTEN carefully and without prejudice to the victim and the alleged offender and ensure their rights and privacy through the resulting investigation

Here are 5 tools to help your company reduce risk and liability by preparing to stop harassment, bullying, and retaliation, and genuinely support those who come forward:

1. Foster a positive work environment and community
Remind employees in meetings, policies, handbooks, training and in general conversations. The company’s management team must reflect the company’s values and lead by example. All must display a culture of respect, diversity, and inclusion from the moment of hire to daily interactions. It must be clear to all, in every communication and action, there is no room for harassment in your organization.

2. Train on generational differences
Training on generational differences helps your work community understand and embrace the differences of each other. What was “ok or acceptable” in the ’80s may no longer be accepted, and employers will need to bridge that gap and address such changes. By implementing a training program that is engaging, fun, and safe, your employees will be provided with a new sense of how to be better versions of themselves on a daily basis.

Employees will learn how to have truthful conversations in a respectful manner and start opening doors to better communication and building stronger relationships with one another.

3. Have open door and no retaliation policies
As an employer, you need to stand behind your Open-Door and No Retaliation policies to ensure trust is built with your employees. Employers much look for potential problems before they become actual problems which can eventuate into the courtroom and expensive settlements.

4. Have strong and clear policies and disciplinary process in your Employee Handbook
Your handbook is the perfect place to clearly define sexual harassment and other types of harassment for your employees. Clearly state the policy equally applies to every employee. Define in detail the process for handling claims to include the commitment to respond in a fair and timely manner to any complaints, and what actions will be taken to resolve the issue.

5. Sign up for EPLI Insurance
The adoption of Employment Practice Liability Insurance (EPLI), which covers sexual harassment and racial discrimination (along with wrongful termination and retaliation) has soared in popularity this past year.

Only 11% of business with 20 to 50 employees are covered with EPLI. An EPLI policy for a company of 15 employees runs about $1,500 a year and will pay out $1 million for anyone claim. Defending a spurious sexual harassment claim could run $100,000 or greater. Having EPLI is great for your business overall, but as you know the biggest asset is aware and compliant employees.

In this changing environment, employers must build and foster a positive work community of tolerance, respect, acceptance, and civility by utilizing specific tools to break long-standing “norms”. In turn, this changed environment will increase productivity, trust, and overall employee happiness.

STOP and call us today to discuss and LOOK how we can help you have open, forthcoming, happy and engaged employees to LISTEN and become better versions of themselves on a daily basis.

For more information on our training programs, go to the Educate and Motivate section of our website.