Why Can't My Employees Simply Tell Harassers to Stop?

A Kantola Learning Minute


An HR Director writes, "How can I encourage my staff to speak up and tell people when they're offended? Why do they think I'm the only one who can solve their problems?" Find out in this week's Kantola Learning Minute with workplace trainer Linda Garrett, JD.



Transcript:
Hi, I'm Linda Garrett with a Kantola Learning Minute.

An HR Director writes, "How can I encourage my staff to speak up and tell people when they're offended? Why do they think I'm the only one who can solve their problems? Honestly, sometimes I feel like I'm running a daycare center here."

Well, I'm sure it sometimes feels like the things that people bring to your desk are rather trivial. But, here's the thing: The law recognizes that harassment and bullying is often based on power imbalances in the workplace. No one goes out of their way to offend someone who can fire them, but they might not care so much about offending someone who they outrank in the chain of command. It takes courage to speak up, especially if the harasser is popular and well liked, or is perceived to have the bosses ear.

If victims were forced to speak up and confront the harasser before they were allowed to speak to anyone in HR, some people might not say anything until things got really bad. And then the harasser, and the company, would all be facing much more serious allegations of harm.

So, even though you might sometimes wish everyone would just grow up and deal with it, be glad your employees know your door is always open, and feel confident that you will be there to help them if problems come up. Be glad that you have the opportunity to nip things in the bud, which means less harm to the company, less harm to the employee, and less harm to the harasser. In fact, I've always said people who are told their conduct is offensive to somebody should be thankful that someone took the time to warn them that their behavior was unwelcome. That way they can correct course before it becomes ongoing, pervasive, or severe behavior that can land them in court.

I hope this helps. Thanks for listening to this Kantola Learning Minute.

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