Workplace bullying and sexual harassment: no complaint, no witnesses

What do you do if you know or suspect that the culture is bad & that bullying & sexual harassment is happening, but you don’t have any proof or actual complaints.

This can be tough as you have a duty of care to take all reasonable steps to provide a workplace that is free from bullying & sexual harassment, so I recommend a 3 step approach.

1. Conduct training to outline what bullying & sexual harassment are, the behavioural expectations of your organisation & to emphasise that you will be responsive to complaints & will support victims. Also ensure to include details of who to & how to make reports of bullying or sexual harassment.

2. Do some sort of research, a survey, climate survey, call it whatever you want that allows people to provide input/feedback on the culture & also to provide information. A survey post training is the best way to go, as it may encourage greater feedback

3. Train your leaders from front line to senior level managers in how to manage complaints. Before people will come forward they must have trust in you & the process.

Training your managers in complaint handling will help stop complaints being placed in to the too hard basket & will empower your managers to take action.

As a manager, you may be the first port of call for someone making a complaint or  you may be the person who becomes aware of employee misconduct. It is important that you deal with misconduct and/or receive the complaints in a proper manner and take some sort of action.

Failure to take action can be detrimental to all the parties and result in external scrutiny and/or litigation.

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