How do we create culture for a safe and productive workplace?
At a basic level, the workplace is an exchange of time from our employees for a service to be provided in the form of work. But the proposed simplicity of this exchange is rather complex in practice. For many, work is one part of their lives where they spend a significant amount of time. Some of us spend more time at work than with our families. This is a reality for many. The consequence is that we develop strong bonds with our coworkers, and we tolerate many employees whom we may not like. This is similar to many family dynamics. Just consider your last Thanksgiving. How many relatives where you expected to tolerate? We have a similar dynamic at work.
However, at work, we must comply with several federal and state mandates which govern employee conduct. The mandates clearly describe actions to be avoided and practices to be embraced. But as I learned with my master’s research proposal on the impact of ethics training on public service agencies; if the organizational culture does not practice what it preaches, then the impact of training is zero. Organizational culture will dictate how employees conduct themselves at all levels. Creating a culture which prevents workplace harassment must be practiced daily by all members of the organization. From the top-level manager to the incoming employee about to be onboarded into the organization. If not, culture will prevail over training every time.
While avoiding workplace harassment is a risk management issue, creating a safe and productive environment for our employees is essential for organizational success. If our employees feel safe, it is much easier for them to be productive which benefits all in the organization. There are fewer morale issues, increase productivity, higher profits, and genuine engagement of employees who know they are a important part of the team.
Engagement by our people leads to success. We need to create a safe environment for our people to succeed and continue to be valuable asset. Many of our employees live by the Golden Rule, “Treat others as you want to be treated.” We are fortunate that most of our people operate using this philosophy. It is when the Golden Rule is not practiced, instances of workplace harassment can manifest itself quickly. If not addressed quickly through direct conversations, the problem will grow. Not having conversations with the offending party or simply ignoring the problem will allow it to grow in severity. Your silence could also be considered a tacit approval of the offending activities. Have a conversation about the offending conduct as soon as possible.
The responsibilities in reporting workplace harassment are clearly laid out in Federal and State mandate. In many States, once a supervisor is aware of a workplace harassment incident, they are duty bound to formally report it to the organization. There is no discretion in this mandate for supervisors. There are no “off the record conversations” with subordinates as it related to workplace harassment. Protect yourself and the organization by clearly knowing how to apply these laws in the workplace.
Dychelon offers workplace harassment training in an interactive environment where employees and supervisors clearly understand their roles in presenting and reporting incidents. However, there is an emphasis on creating a work environment where all members of the organization contribute to a safe and productive environment where everyone contributes to the success of the organization. The training will be an uplifting experience for your people.
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Al Cobos is the owner and lead consultant for Dychelon which improves team performance and promotes successful team building. Al has successfully built teams over the past two decades. He has over thirty years of public sector experience in addition to teaching for several universities. His focus is to improve people in their personal and professional lives.