As I write this blog, I am reminded that today is Remembrance Day, a day dedicated to the men and women in Canada who lost their lives fighting for our freedom and safety.
In the past month, Canada has been rocked by incidents of violence toward our country and accusations of harassment in the workplace. Victims have come forward and shared their stories with the media and in turn, the public. Where we live and work should be a space that should make us feel safe and comfortable. It is a human right in a free society to feel safe. At work, the Human Rights Code, Workplace Violence and Harassment Legislation and the Criminal Code, are safety laws available to employees, yet harassment in the workplace are covered up for years, and still continues.
There are ways we can help create an environment that does not tolerate wrongful treatment of others, but also provides the resources should harassment issues still arise.
Every employee has the right to be treated with respect and has a responsibility to treat others with respect. If a person feels that he or she is being harassed, they should talk to someone that they trust, whether it be a co-worker, a family member or an employee in the human resources department, if one exists. It is important to document these incidents, and inform employees of the policies the employer has in place.
Harassment poisons the entire workplace and affects employee morale and productivity. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do as an employer or person of influence to keep your work environment safe and respectful:
- Clear Expectations
- Make sure that the expectations in your workplace are clear – harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.
- Monitor the Atmosphere
- Pay attention to the tone of interactions and comments made between co-workers and the use of offensive emails, inappropriate comments, derogatory language or jokes, and check for increased absenteeism or staff turnover.
- Lead by Example
- Model respectful behaviours
- Maintain Open Communication Channels
- Policies, procedures, and resources should be posted visibly in common areas, and senior management should offer an open door.
A workplace with an EAP and advanced health management programs that include trauma support will be able to help your employees in their time of need, and aid in their recovery in the workplace. We can all work together to create a safe place where we can work productively and feel supported. Let’s pause today and ask if the recent violence against Canada and harassment events reported in the media have caused you concern for your safety? What steps have you taken to make your office, which is a microcosm of the larger community, a “safer” environment for you, your colleagues, and your staff? Are we doing our part to make our work environment and country a safe place to work and live?
I look forward to hearing from you in the comments section below.