When a letter comes in the mail with a return address of the EEOC, I think we can all agree that it’s not likely to be good news. But there are a few changes that can be done to reduce or avoid EEOC claims all together. The EEOC harassment task force spent a great deal of time and money to determine that it is all about accountability. Here are the top takeaways:
- Accountability must be demonstrated.
- An effective anti-harassment system that includes safe reporting, thorough investigation and proportionate corrective actions creates a cycle that reduces harassment.
- A trusted system drives earlier reporting for more effective resolution.
Consistent accountability across all levels of an organization is not going to magically fix all of your people-based challenges overnight. But with time, and consistent application of process, here are a few of the improvements you can expect.
Example: An employee feels as though he is spoken to disrespectfully by his manager based on his ethnicity.
Issue Before accountability After accountability builds trust
|Productivity||EE feels that his work will be unfairly critiqued, and he has no hope for promotion. Why work hard or provide innovating ideas when he will likely be subject to humiliation in front of his peers?||EE feels comfortable talking with HR and working to improve communications between he and his Manager. He begins to take pride in his work again and hopes to grow within the company.|
|Disengagement||EE doesn’t want to bring attention to himself or his work as the attention he gets always seems to be negative. So, he does a minimal amount of work, doesn’t take risks, ask questions or try to improve or speed up production.||Once the EE feels better in his work environment, he generally wants to show appreciation by showing that he is a loyal employee, works hard and is a good candidate for future promotion.|
|Absenteeism||Stress and depression from a hostile work situation often manifest in physical symptoms and depressed immune system functions that lead to an increase in the number of days calling in sick to work.||Knowing that problems can and will be addressed respectfully and result in a positive outcome allows the employee to get up every morning feeling positive about going to work. He wants to be accountable to his peers.|
|Turnover||EE feels that there is no way to fix the disrespect and unfair treatment in his job and the only choice he has is to leave. Along with the employee, skills and product knowledge go out the door.||Research shows that employees who feel they are treated fairly and are given growth opportunities are almost 60% more likely to stay and move into the next level of job.|
|Recruiting||EEs who leave their jobs often feel disgraced. This leaves them more likely to share the reason why they could not stay both in person and on social media. Potential employees read these reviews and are deterred from applying.||Positive employee reviews generally don’t happen unless employees really enjoy their work, management and the company. High ratings increase the number of applicants received for open positions and make it easier to hire good candidates more quickly.|
The Harassment Task Force put together a simple one-page Employer Checklist that I suggest every HR professional should go through twice. The first time as the HR resource in your company evaluating your harassment and discrimination complaint and prevention process. And the second time as an employee considering what you would answer if you had a complaint or witnessed unacceptable behavior. Then I challenge you to write down at least three things you can do to change the perception of the accountability process in the eyes of your employees. If you need help, read this post for a few suggestions. Every process has room for at least a little improvement.
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