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The Empuls Glossary

Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms

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Employee Harassment

Employee harassment is a pervasive issue in workplaces worldwide, encompassing various forms of misconduct that undermine the well-being and dignity of individuals. Addressing and preventing harassment is crucial for fostering a safe and inclusive work environment conducive to productivity and employee satisfaction.

What is employee harassment?

Employee harassment is an unwelcomed or offensive behavior that creates a hostile or intimidating work environment for an individual. It can manifest in various forms, including but not limited to verbal abuse, discriminatory treatment, sexual advances, bullying, and cyber harassment.

The significance of addressing and preventing harassment cannot be overstated. Not only does harassment violate individuals' rights and dignity, but it also adversely affects organizational culture, employee morale, and overall productivity. Failure to address harassment can lead to legal liabilities, damage to reputation, and financial repercussions for employers.

Listen, recognize, award, and retain your employees with our Employee engagement software  

What is the impact of employee harassment?

The impact of employee harassment are:

1. Individual impact

  • Psychological effects on victims: Harassment can lead to anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental health issues for victims.
  • Impact on job satisfaction and performance: Due to harassment, victims may experience decreased job satisfaction, impaired performance, absenteeism, and turnover intentions.

2. Organizational impact

  • Decreased morale and productivity: Harassment undermines trust, cohesion, and employee collaboration, decreasing morale and productivity.
  • Increased turnover rates: Employees subjected to harassment are likelier to leave the organization, resulting in turnover costs and talent loss.
  • Legal and financial repercussions: Organizations may face lawsuits, legal penalties, settlements, and damage to their reputation due to harassment incidents.

What are the signs of harassment?

The signs are:

  • Behavioral changes in employees: Victims may exhibit signs of stress, anxiety, or withdrawal, while perpetrators may demonstrate aggression or hostility.
  • Complaints or reports from employees: Observing and addressing complaints or reports of harassment promptly is crucial to preventing escalation.

What are the relevant laws and regulations regarding employee harassment?

The relevant laws and regulations are:

  • Federal and state anti-discrimination laws: Compliance with laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and state-specific regulations is essential for preventing harassment and discrimination in the workplace.
  • Legal responsibilities of employers in preventing harassment: Employers must take reasonable steps to prevent and address harassment, including implementing policies, training employees, and investigating complaints promptly.

What is the consequences of non-compliance?

The consequences of non-compliance:

  • Potential legal penalties and Fines: Non-compliance with anti-harassment laws can result in legal penalties, fines, and damages awarded to victims in lawsuits.
  • Reputational damage and loss of trust: Organizations that fail to address harassment effectively risk damaging their reputation and losing the trust of employees, customers, and stakeholders.

How do the reporting mechanisms and procedures take place?

The reporting mechanism and procedure takes place in the following way:

1. Clear reporting

  • Importance of clear reporting channels: Establishing accessible and confidential reporting mechanisms encourages victims and witnesses to come forward.
  • Confidentiality and protection for whistleblowers: Ensuring confidentiality and protection from retaliation for whistleblowers fosters trust in the reporting process.

2. Investigation process

  • Steps involved in investigating harassment claims: Organizations should conduct thorough, impartial investigations into harassment allegations, respecting the due process rights of all parties involved.
  • Ensuring impartiality and fairness: Designating trained investigators and implementing consistent protocols promote fairness and accountability in the investigation process.

3. Creating a culture of respect and inclusion

  • Leadership commitment to zero-tolerance policies: Senior leadership should communicate and enforce zero-tolerance policies against harassment, emphasizing the importance of respect and inclusion.
  • Diversity and sensitivity training for employees: Training on diversity, inclusion, and bystander intervention equips employees with the knowledge and skills to prevent harassment and promote a respectful workplace.

Employee pulse surveys:

These are short surveys that can be sent frequently to check what your employees think about an issue quickly. The survey comprises fewer questions (not more than 10) to get the information quickly. These can be administered at regular intervals (monthly/weekly/quarterly).

One-on-one meetings:

Having periodic, hour-long meetings for an informal chat with every team member is an excellent way to get a true sense of what’s happening with them. Since it is a safe and private conversation, it helps you get better details about an issue.


eNPS (employee Net Promoter score) is one of the simplest yet effective ways to assess your employee's opinion of your company. It includes one intriguing question that gauges loyalty. An example of eNPS questions include: How likely are you to recommend our company to others? Employees respond to the eNPS survey on a scale of 1-10, where 10 denotes they are ‘highly likely’ to recommend the company and 1 signifies they are ‘highly unlikely’ to recommend it.

Based on the responses, employees can be placed in three different categories:

  • Promoters
    Employees who have responded positively or agreed.
  • Detractors
    Employees who have reacted negatively or disagreed.
  • Passives
    Employees who have stayed neutral with their responses.

How to establish clear policies and procedures for employee harassment?

The policies and procedures include:

  • Developing comprehensive anti-harassment policies: Organizations should draft and communicate clear policies prohibiting harassment, outlining reporting procedures and consequences for violations.
  • Communicating policies effectively to all employees: Ensuring that employees understand their rights and responsibilities regarding harassment prevention fosters compliance and accountability.
  • Empowering employees to speak up against harassment: Encouraging bystander intervention empowers employees to intervene and support targets of harassment, fostering a culture of accountability and solidarity.
  • Encouraging support for victims and accountability for perpetrators: Providing resources and support for victims while holding perpetrators accountable sends a clear message that harassment will not be tolerated.

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