15 Tips on Writing Effective Harassment Policies

harassment policies bully poster
Writing an effective harassment policy will help keep employees safe and create a friendlier culture

Only 26% of employees believe their organization can swiftly handle workplace harassment complaints, according to the report “Reality of the Modern Workplace: Understanding Employee Empowerment.”

The report also found that 1 in 6 American employees avoid reporting an issue, most likely out of fear of repercussions.

Then again, maybe they simply don’t know what to do since 48% of employees don’t even have an employee handbook, and 76% of employees have no way of submitting an anonymous complaint.

If your agency has similar issues, it’s time to fix them.

The first step? Designing better harassment policies.

We’ll give you 15 tips for writing effective harassment policies in today’s post.

But first, let’s look at why harassment policies are so important.

The Purpose of Harassment Policies

First and foremost, effective harassment policies help employees be treated equally and feel safe in the workplace.

When employees know the behaviors that aren’t allowed in the workplace, and they know exactly how they’ll be punished if they engage in prohibited behavior, they’re less likely to harass fellow employees.

It will also protect your agency from lawsuits.

One of the first things judges look at is if agencies in a harassment suit provided adequate care, resources, and training to prevent harassment from occurring in the workplace.

And ultimately, a well-written harassment policy will help create a culture of respect and civility – dramatically lowering the instances of harassment.

15 Tips on Writing Effective Harassment Policies

Harassment policies need to be written so that people can easily identify harassment and they know precisely what will happen to them if they harass coworkers.

To help you write your own harassment policy, here are 15 tips for making it clear and effective:

  1. Expand your harassment policy beyond sexual harassment and make sure it includes race, ethnicity, age, national origin, disability, and religion.
  2. Provide a crystal clear definition of harassment and a detailed list of prohibited behavior, including harassment that could occur at work-related functions or online.
  3. Explicitly grant protection from retaliation to employees and bystanders who file harassment complaints.
  4. Describe your process for anonymously filing complaints.
  5. Let employees file complaints with someone outside of their chain of command to avoid unnecessary conflict or fear of retaliation.
  6. Ensure that you will protect the identity and confidentiality of the employees who file harassment complaints, especially if complaints can’t be filed anonymously.
  7. Allow for an impartial investigation into harassment complaints, either from within your organization or from a 3rd party.
  8. Pledge to your employees that you will take immediate corrective action when harassment occurs.
  9. Detail the specific penalties and consequences for harassing employees, including termination.
  10. Do not take any action involving an alleged victim of harassment without first receiving their consent.
  11. Include emotionally-charged language that helps your employees viscerally understand your policies and the seriousness of harassment (i.e. say “target” instead of victim and “predator” instead of perpetrator).
  12. Post your harassment policy throughout your organization, on your website, and inside your employee handbook and orientation materials.
  13. Train all managers and supervisors in appropriately handling harassment complaints, and outline their roles and responsibilities when a complaint is filed.
  14. Emphasize that employees are protected from discrimination when it comes to employment decisions, such as hiring, firing, and transfers.
  15. Require that someone in a position of authority must give employees who file harassment complaints updates about the status of their investigation and the punitive action taken against the harasser if they’re found guilty.

Want a Complete Guide to Effective Harassment Policies?

While the harassment policy tips we just gave you are helpful, they’re often not enough.

If you want to give your harassment policies a complete overhaul (or finally create your first harassment policy), then you need in-depth guides that show you how to do it.

We can give them to you.

We provide a series of books, videos, and courses on sexual and non-sexual harassment policies and best practices, such as:

  • Harassment Prevention for Employees – State and Local Government Edition
  • Harassment Prevention for Managers – State and Local Government Sector Edition
  • Investigating Workplace Harassment: How to Be Fair, Thorough, and Legal
  • The Sexual Harassment Handbook
  • The Workplace Law Advisor: From Harassment and Discrimination Policies to Hiring and Firing Guidelines: What Every Manager and Employee Needs to Know

Start using these resources and many more to design an effective harassment policy by getting your free trial of Enterprise Training below.

Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training by scheduling your free online training consultation today!

Schedule Free Consultation

Government Succession Planning: 5 Easy Steps for Great Results

Government succession planning is critical to maintaining a high-functioning organization.
Government succession planning is critical to maintaining a high-functioning organization.

Succession planning is critical to maintaining a high-functioning organization. Do you feel like your Government succession planning efforts are falling short of your expectations, and you’re failing to effectively backfill talent to take over for your retirement-aged staff?

You’re not alone.

Back in 2009, The International Public Management Association for Human Resources conducted a survey on workforce and succession planning and found that only 25% of respondents reported having a formal succession plan in place. Those that didn’t have a plan at all said they were too preoccupied with short-term activities and suffered from insufficient staff due to the great recession.

According to a more recent survey conducted by Cornerstone, Creating the Next Generation of Federal Human Capital: The 2014 State of Human Capital Management Report, 76% of federal agency human capital executives believe their management programs have fallen short of their goals, and 63% believe that their succession planning efforts are not successful.

Even with their programs failing, only 38% of survey respondents cited backfilling talent as a top 3 priority in 2014.

What’s The Big Problem With This Lack of Government Succession Planning?

According to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, nearly 600,000 employees (31%) Government-wide will be eligible to retire by this year, 2017.

This massive turnover could cause a serious loss of leadership and institutional knowledge you’re going to need to operate effectively into the future.

Developing a pipeline of motivated individuals who could fulfill the gaps in your agency is a critical step for sustained and unimpeded service levels in Government.

To help you identify potential candidates with the critical skills needed to lead your agency effectively, here are the top 5 steps you can take to execute a successful Government succession planning strategy.

1. Identify the Key Positions Within Your Organization You Can’t Function Without

An appropriate first step would be to create an oversight committee that can develop a competent plan and resolve any issues related to Government succession planning. The people most qualified for this job would be senior and mid-level managers who already oversee the critical business operations in your agency.

The foremost goal of this committee would be to identify key leadership positions along with positions that are critical for accomplishing your major objectives within your organization.

2. Identify The Base Competencies That are Required for Each Position

After you identify your mission-critical positions, you should identify the base competencies your future staff needs to master in order to successfully perform in those positions.

An easy way to do this is to deliver a survey to managers to measure these competencies so you can devise a plan for developing them in your backfilled talent.

Also, you can measure your “benchmark strength” to see where your staff rank in terms of the competencies you are looking for.

3. Identify Your Backfilling Talent

Now that you know what positions will need to be filled the soonest, and you know what competencies those positions require, you can begin scouting for potential talent to groom for those positions.

Most skills can be easily developed, so you should focus on candidates that possess “raw talent”—self-determination, high motivation, and dedication to your organization. These are the individuals who will be the most eager to learn, and the easiest to teach.

Managers should work to instill a “talent-seeking culture” within your organization to continuously identify and develop an internal selection of promotable individuals.

4. Develop a Mentorship Program Between Your Backfilled Talent and Senior Managers

A strong mentoring program will allow senior managers and executives to impart their valuable knowledge about their job requirements, employee management styles, and professional development strategies.

This will help your chosen candidates realize their full potential through regular feedback, cross-training, and proactive coaching in order to mold them into high-performing employees who are ready to take over their mentor’s position.

5. Deploy Education and Training Programs to Backfilled Talent

In addition to mentorship and coaching, your selected talent will need ongoing education to fully prepare them for their potential new roles within your agency.

With constrained budgets and limited staff, It’s not always possible to deliver this training on-site.

Online learning tools for Government training can provide your employees with the knowledge and skills they need to effectively perform in their current position while preparing them for the challenges of their future roles.

Ready to Make Government Succession Planning Cost-Effective and Easy?

Sign up for our course “Initiating Succession Planning” to help you build your talent pool, motivate your employees, and fortify your agency against the loss of vital employees. Plus, you’ll gain access to thousands of other courses you can use to refine your succession planning and to help your employees reach their full potential and thrive within your organization.

Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training by scheduling your free online training consultation today!

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