Creating a workplace that is safe, respectful, and free from harassment is a fundamental responsibility for employers, even in states where there are no mandated sexual harassment training laws. A proactive approach to harassment prevention not only protects employees, it fosters a positive organizational culture — and minimizes legal risks.

In this article, we’ll expand on the importance of implementing anti-harassment measures in the workplace, and walk you through 10 best practices you can implement right away.

Do I really need sexual harassment training?

Harassment prevention training is crucial for all employers, even in states where it isn’t legally mandated, and that’s because it fosters a respectful and inclusive workplace environment. This kind of training educates employees about acceptable behaviors, helps prevent discriminatory practices, and reduces the risk of harassment incidents.

Taking a proactive approach to harassment prevention not only protects employees from potential harm, but also shields your company from costly legal battles and reputational damage. Plus, a workplace that actively promotes respect and understanding tends to have higher employee morale, increased productivity, and better retention rates. Who doesn’t want that?

Ultimately, investing in anti-harassment training is a vital step in ensuring a safe, supportive, and equitable work culture for everyone.

1. Establish clear anti-harassment policies

Develop and disseminate a comprehensive anti-harassment policy. This policy should:

  • Define what constitutes harassment, including examples of sexual harassment, bullying, and other forms of inappropriate conduct.
  • Clearly state that harassment will not be tolerated under any circumstances.
  • Explain the procedures for reporting harassment and ensure confidentiality to the extent possible.
  • Outline the steps the company will take to investigate and address complaints.

2. Create an inclusive culture

Promote a culture of respect and inclusion:

  • Encourage open communication and respect among employees at all levels.
  • Celebrate diversity and ensure that all employees feel valued and included.
  • Address any behavior that undermines a respectful work environment promptly and effectively.

3. Provide training

Even if not legally required, offer regular harassment prevention training to all employees. Training should cover:

  • Understanding what constitutes harassment and discrimination.
  • The importance of bystander intervention and supporting colleagues.
  • How to report incidents and the company’s commitment to handling complaints seriously.
  • The consequences of engaging in or condoning harassment.

4. Train manager and supervisors

Equip managers and supervisors with the tools to recognize, prevent, and respond to harassment:

  • Teach them how to handle complaints sensitively and confidentially.
  • Ensure they understand their responsibility to model respectful behavior and enforce anti-harassment policies.
  • Provide guidance on how to create a positive and inclusive team environment.

5. Implement robust reporting mechanisms

Make it easy and safe for employees to report harassment:

  • Offer multiple channels for reporting, such as a dedicated HR contact, an anonymous hotline, or an online reporting system.
  • Ensure that employees are aware of these reporting options and trust that their complaints will be taken seriously and handled promptly.

6. Conduct thorough investigations

Take all complaints seriously and conduct thorough investigations:

  • Act quickly and maintain confidentiality throughout the process.
  • Ensure that investigations are impartial and fair to all parties involved.
  • Take appropriate corrective action if harassment is found to have occurred.

7. Enforce accountability

Hold everyone accountable for their behavior:

  • Apply disciplinary measures consistently and fairly, regardless of the perpetrator’s position within the company.
  • Communicate the consequences of harassment clearly to all employees.

8. Monitor and assess the workplace environment

Regularly assess the workplace environment to ensure policies and training are effective:

  • Conduct anonymous surveys to gauge employees’ perceptions of workplace culture and safety.
  • Review and update policies and training programs based on feedback and any changes in the legal landscape.

9. Provide support for victims

Offer support to employees who experience harassment:

  • Provide access to counseling services or employee assistance programs (EAPs).
  • Ensure victims know that the company supports them and will take appropriate action to prevent further harassment.

10. Lead by example

Leadership should model the behavior they expect from all employees by:

  • Demonstrating commitment to a harassment-free workplace through words and actions.
  • Participating in training sessions and engage in conversations about maintaining a respectful and inclusive work environment.

The final word

By implementing these best practices, employers can create a safer, more respectful workplace and demonstrate their commitment to preventing harassment. This proactive approach not only enhances employee well-being, but also strengthens the organization’s reputation and overall success.

About Ethena

At Ethena, we’re committed to making corporate compliance training so good it sticks. In fact, ineffective harassment prevention training was the catalyst for why we were founded

Today, our modern and engaging approach to learning goes beyond check-the-box regulation requirements. With 2.3 million ratings and a 93% positivity score, Ethena’s Harassment Prevention training course inspires learners to foster healthy, inclusive, and squeaky clean workplaces.