Workplace harassment - sexual or otherwise - is a big problem.

Studies show that nearly 75 percent of Americans believe workplace harassment is an issue, and of that, 64 percent deem it serious.  In today’s world, instances of this are more and more prevalent. Headlines revealing stories of misogynistic commentary, quid pro quo behavior and more dominate our newsfeeds, arrive in our email and are delivered to our doorsteps daily. AND In 2018, monetary costs from harassment charges to companies = $56.6 million

For businesses, organizations and municipalities, it is more important than ever for leadership to take a proactive approach to preventing and reconciling harassment issues. Too often organizations assume employees understand what “professional behavior” means, but the definition can vary widely from person to person. 

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s task force, business leaders are responsible for educating employees and promoting open discussion about appropriate behavior. While most municipalities are required by law to host regular harassment training sessions, that is just the beginning. 

At Ulliance, we offer a unique approach to addressing harassment claims and prevention education that goes beyond “lecture hall” training sessions.  Our team of experts serves as life advisors through employee assistance programs (EAP) designed to address the emotional issues that are at the root of individual employees harassing behaviors.

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For a local Michigan Charter Township, hosting a sexual harassment awareness training session provided an unanticipated benefit. Though township HR had not received any claims, Ulliance conducted a sexual harassment awareness workshop to fulfill state compliance requirements. The customized presentation, spotlighting the verbiage and behaviors that constitute harassment, was designed to demonstrate 

female-boss-stands-leaning-on-table-at-business-PD3WHMPWhat is and isn’t acceptable can be very subjective and most of the time the offender does not mean to offend others. Employers are left to deal with the consequences.

The township's commitment to fostering a workplace culture that welcomes and empowers employees to seek solutions to harassment issues.

The presentation proved to be an eye-opener for one township department. Team members began to identify a non-sexual harassment situation that was plaguing the group.  The affected employees filed a formal complaint with the HR department, and upon review, leadership decided there was a hostile work environment. Like many cases, the individual causing the problems was unaware of the negativity their comments and actions created among co-workers.

Ulliance worked with the township to develop a customized plan of action to confidentially address the harassing employee’s behavioral problems, resulting in a 180-degree shift in conduct. Team members and staff from other departments noticed a night and day change in the individual’s behavior within days!  

Working with Ulliance, the township’s HR department identified behaviors that were contributing to a harassing work environment and helped the individual address them through the Ulliance Life Advisor EAP. This approach engages employees in short-term, solution-based counseling to work through the personal, emotional issues at the root of inappropriate behavior and comments. For the employee in the Michigan Charter Township, the Life Advisor EAP provided the tools to consider the feelings of others and modify their behavior in difficult situations.

By holding sexual harassment awareness training sessions, the township not only demonstrated that it supports employees and takes harassment claims of any type seriously, it reaped the reward of a more harmonious workforce, and a more productive one at that.

The lack of a training strategy to top talent suggests that the organization has no interest in helping one meet his or her own aspirations, leading to a lack of highly motivated recruits. When employers show employees they are valued by emphasizing their career development and achievements, they are actually investing in their people.

What's Your Return on Investment and People?