Heyl Royster

Combating Harassment In The Workplace

february 7, 2018

A 1994 Newsweek survey reported 73 percent of female resident physicians questioned said they had been sexually harassed. In a survey conducted in the same year by The Journal of Nursing Administration, sexual harassment by male patients and coworkers was reported by more than 70% of the female nursing staff surveyed. The latter survey report noted that the harassment affected nursing performance and productivity and suggested that “nursing managers and executives must discover and eliminate sexual harassment in hospital work settings and create work cultures and discourage manifestation of sexually harassing behaviors.” 24 years later, the issue of sexual harassment within the workplace continues to exist in many industries, including, unfortunately, the healthcare industry.

The Society for Human Resource Management 2017 survey on sexual harassment released last month revealed that, although 94% of employers have some form of policy on sexual harassment, 22% of non-management employees did not know for sure whether or not the policies existed or what was in them.

The survey also reported that 11% of non-management employees stated that they had experienced some form of sexual harassment in the previous 12 months. Of those, 76% did not report the harassment for fear of retaliation.

An astute employer should realize several truths: 1. Harassment in the workplace still exists; 2. No one deserves to be harassed; 3. Harassment leads to lower performance; 4. Harassment reflects not only on the harasser, but on the employer; 5. Harassment is expensive, not only in terms of lower performance, but also in terms of administrative time and litigation costs.

As would be expected, law firms, consultants and human resource vendors are ramping up to sell their programs to eliminate harassment in your workplace. When looking at these solicitations or when considering how to approach this issue with your valuable workforce, keep the following in mind:

  1. Computer based learning is cheap and more often than not, ineffective to stop harassment.
  2. PowerPoint presentations do not get to the heart the emotional impact of harassment.
  3. Changing behaviors in not a matter of applying the latest technology.
  4. Lecturing people about how they should behave without ever really confronting behaviors in a meaningful way is a waste of valuable time.

When considering how to tackle this issue and when reviewing what is offered in the market place as a panacea, consider the following: Training is an interactive process; training should engage the participants and make them face the issue head-on; training should be respectful of all those participating, regardless of their views; training should focus on those human emotions and conditions to which everyone can relate.

If you would like to learn more about interactive training, please call any member of the Healthcare Practice.

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