4 Signs of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

4 Signs of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace 2560 1709 Balance Point Team

We have all seen the videos. Sexual harassment being played out in the office. The unwelcome touch, the helpless victim, the uncomfortable bystander…

Training videos often depict scenarios of harassment that are apparent and visible to others. But not all harassment is conspicuous, and many incidents happen outside of the office.

Virtual harassment is on the rise due to the increased popularity of remote work. Online communication, which is necessary for remote work, often blurs professional and personal boundaries. Access to unmonitored communication methods like text, phone, and video make it easier for harassers to target their victims without being seen.

A Deloitte survey, Women at Work: A Global Outlook, that was conducted as remote work soared between November 2020 and March of 2021, found that 52% of women have experienced some form of harassment or microaggression in the past year.

Those who experience sexual harassment at work often avoid reporting it for fear of retaliation, termination, or inaction. That’s according to a 2021 report from the National Partnership for Women & Families.

Four Indicators of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

So, if harassment isn’t always reported, and oftentimes there are no witnesses, how can you tell if harassment is occurring at your workplace? Fortunately, there are four signs to look out for.

Sudden and/or frequent absences and tardiness

An employee who is normally dependable might start reporting to work late, calling out sick more often, or missing meetings and deadlines.

Reduced productivity 

A harassed employee may suddenly start to struggle with deadlines, or the quality of their work may suffer.

Avoidance of co-workers 

A normally social employee might withdraw from situations where people gather. If you sense that someone is uncomfortable around other co-workers, you might have cause to investigate.

Request for transfer

While it is common for employees to seek out roles within the company to further their career or broaden their skillset, be skeptical of transfer requests that seem illogical.

The True Cost of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

As an employer you have a responsibility to maintain a workplace that is free of sexual harassment. If you allow it to persist it will impact morale and ultimately your organization’s bottom line. According to Deloitte survey from 2019, The Economic Costs of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace, sexual harassment costs organizations $2.6 billion in lost productivity (or $1,053 on average per victim) and $0.9 billion in other costs (or $375 on average per victim.)

It is best practice to monitor your workplace. Don’t overlook anything that is out of the ordinary or an employee is acting out of character. Reach out to your team periodically. Talk to them about the work environment and their job satisfaction. Ask for their input. Talk to supervisors and managers about what is going on. Keep the lines of communication open.

Finally, all complaints should be taken seriously. If someone reports sexual harassment, act immediately. If the complaint turns out to be valid, a swift and effective response is the key to ending the situation and creating a safe working environment for all employees.

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