How Sexual Harassment Can Affect The Workplace

Sexual harassment in the workplace is an ongoing risk to the safety of your company’s employees and the welfare of your business.

The implications of sexual harassment in the workplace have a far-reaching impact – and it may even be more serious and complex than you even realize. You should understand how it could impact your operations and know the best way to address any issues promptly and efficiently.

If sexual harassment occurs in your workplace, it is your responsibility to respond to the complaint. Any - and all - complaints should be taken seriously.

If the problem is not resolved and the behavior is allowed to continue, it can be devastating to your business operations on many levels.

You will be liable for any damages that the sexual harassment victims suffer because of the behavior, and your business will also suffer because of the impact that the sexual harassment has had on it on many different levels and in many ways.

In 2019, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reported that complaints of sexual harassment filed with their office and that led to more than $68 million in direct settlements.

Of course, the other impacts on businesses added up to millions more in damages. Sexual harassment is a serious issue that has a spiraling affect on businesses where it occurs.

Impacts On Employee Health

Studies have shown that women who have experienced sexual harassment have an almost three times higher risk of developing depressive symptoms. Depressive symptoms can cause less productivity, fatigue, and an overall feeling of being unwell.

Depression can affect the individual both mentally and physically. Also, women who suffered sexual harassment often experience debilitating stress reactions, sleep disorders, high blood pressure, nausea, and lowered self-esteem.

All of these can lead to more medical visits, time off work, and reduced productivity. Research has proven that employees who have seen harassment occur in the workplace are much more likely to have lower psychological and physical well-being, which were caused by a hostile work environment, empathy for the victim of the harassment, and fears about suffering harassment themselves.

Impacts On Employee Productivity

Toxic workplaces can cause employees to have reduced productivity. There are many ways in which sexual harassment can affect the workplace. It can increase tardiness, absenteeism, the neglect of projects, and employee distractions.

Women in particular who suffered sexual harassment indicated they had a significant decrease in motivation to work and they had an inability to concentrate on their work because of the sexual innuendos that were present.

Impacts On Hiring And Retention

Toxic work environments cause employee turnover. Actually, employee turnover is one of the largest impacts of any toxic work environment.

Another aspect of how sexual harassment affects the workplace is replacing the team members who leave your business can become problematic.

The EEOC found an earlier survey revealed that 58 percent of respondents who had seen some kind of “unfairness” in the workplace during the last years would “to some degree” discourage potential employees from joining the company.

 Thus, the likelihood of finding quality replacement employees is significantly impeded.

The Effects On The Company Itself

Sexual harassment can affect your company’s brand. When consumers become aware of such behaviors being directed toward an employee who is simply doing his or her job, they may form negative generalizations toward your company and its brand.

This will make them less likely to buy your products or services. Surveys reveal that employees who have been the victim of or witnessed an unfair work environment will often discourage potential customers from buying products or services from a specific employer.

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You have an important role in preventing and combating sexual harassment in the workplace. You need to make sure you have an effective prevention-based harassment training program in place.

Rulings by the Supreme Court indicate that the companies who have sexual harassment training and reporting policies in place reduce their liability. The EEOC study released stated that “training is an essential component of an anti-harassment effort,” so the key to resolving issues is being proactive and preventing them.

The Department of Justice has made it obvious that an effective training program exceeds the “check in the box” approach and is effective in accurately demonstrating your commitment to your employees and your business success.

Do not wait until you have a complaint to address the matter.

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