Why Companies Have To Pay More Attention To Their Anti-Harassment Policies And Procedures


Workplace anti-harassment training should always go beyond a compliance necessity. Instead, companies should be approaching this aspect of professional training with the intention of creating a work environment that provides safe and equal opportunities for all employees.  

Below, we discuss why you need to be taking a second look at your anti-harassment policies, what exactly classifies workplace harassment and how a blended learning approach can bring your employees up to speed. 

 Workplace harassment occurs in every industry in Canada.

To ensure that your employees can work in a safe environment, you need to pay attention to your anti-harassment training plan.    

Are Your Anti-Harassment Policies & Procedures Up To Date?

If your workplace harassment policies and procedures haven’t been reviewed recently, then it’s time to pay attention to them.  

Current events are driving continuous awareness about the forms of harassment and discrimination that are prevalent across a wide range of industries. The #MeToo movement in 2017 shone a public light on the need for all companies to gain a better education around workplace harassment.  

Although positive actions have been taken in the last three years, what’s clear is that more work is needed to provide employees with the right kind of training to mitigate risk and create a positive work environment for all.  

All companies in Canada are required by law under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) to have the right policies and procedures in place to ensure that all employees have a safe environment to work in. It’s also mandatory that these policies are reviewed on an annual basis.  

While that is all well and good, how many of your employees are up to date on what your company’s policy on this topic? When was the last time that workplace harassment training was provided? 

Employees need to be provided with updated information and training on the correct way to interact with others in the workplace environment on a regular basis. Without this, the cost to your company could be staggering if an incident happens.  

What Classifies Workplace Harassment?  

Harassment begins when an employee faces continual offensive behaviours by others and when this behaviour contains actions serious enough to create a hostile work environment for the affected employee.  

There are many ways in which an employee can feel harassed in the workplace. Any situation which involves an individual being isolated, mistreated or discriminated against by either a co-worker or an employer can be viewed as workplace harassment.  

When this happens it has the ability to greatly affect the health and wellbeing of an employee, as well as their job stability and satisfaction. A study carried out by Statistics Canada in 2016 found that 19% of women and 13% of men had experienced some form of harassment while in the work environment. And those that had been harassed by a manager noted a decreased sense of belonging in their organization. 

Yet, which actions are considered harassment according to the OSHA? Most actions that involve unwelcome words or behaviours that are intended to intimidate can be classed as an act of harassment. For example:  

  • Remarks, jokes or innuendos that are demeaning, intimidate, ridicule or are offensive 
  • Displaying or circulating offensive pictures
  • Bullying
  • Workplace sexual harassment
  • Repeated offensive forms of communication e.g. phone calls or emails 

Being educated on what falls under workplace harassment is helpful for all parties to understand and should be readily available to all members of a company. The first step to preventing acts of harassment in the workplace is having a comprehensive understanding of what these acts are.  

The Importance Of Providing Anti-Harassment Prevention Training 

Without adequate anti-harassment training, ongoing bullying of an individual can create a wide range of effects that impact and undermine an individual’s productivity and mental wellbeing.  

Employees that have been harassed are known to experience issues with anxiety and depression leading to decreased efficiency and morale levels. They are also more likely to call in sick more and display behaviours of avoidance. This inevitably will impact your company’s bottom line and will also ruin the relationship that you have with the affected employee. 

Under Bill 132 of the OHSA, all Canadian employers must provide adequate training and instruction when it comes to harassment in the work environment.  

While you may assume that your employees know the difference between the right and wrong way to interact with others, you can never be certain. That’s why it is vital that regular and up to date anti-harassment training is provided to both employees and managers alike.  

How Can I Be Ensured That My Company’s Workplace Harassment Training Program Is Effective?  

Many company leaders often ask this question and for good reason. As we all know, many employees may view this kind of training as a necessary evil rather than approaching it from the viewpoint of learning essential information.  

To make sure that the training program you put in place to create a safe work environment for your employees is effective, focus on the following:  

  • Make sure that training is interactive – If participants are passive, then training won’t work. Having a mixture of in-person and online training is often recommended to help employees stay engaged and to promote active participation.  
  • Clarify that training needs to be taken seriously – Training will only be effective if your employees are taking it seriously. Reiterate the importance of identifying and preventing harassment in the workplace as it can happen to anyone.  
  • Give examples of what is and isn’t considered as harassing behaviour – Make sure that training content adequately covers what constitutes harassment in the workplace 
  • Outline the risks and repercussions of not recognizing anti-harassment procedures – It is important that workplace harassment training also covers the repercussions for both employees and managers of not abiding by the company’s workplace harassment policy.  

Using Blended Learning To Create A Safe Work Environment For Employees  

Work harassment training is not a one-time event. And unfortunately, there is still work to be done when it comes to riding workplace environments of harassment. While you can’t fully control whether a harassment situation will arise in your company or not, you can put measures in place to mitigate the risks.  

When it comes to updating their anti-harassment policies and training, many business owners are now turning to blended learning opportunities in order to create a safe work environment. The reason why blended learning is so popular is that it offers employees the flexibility to find information to recognize harassment and act accordingly on a continuous basis.  

As blended training solutions consist of both online and in-person training, your employees will receive the benefits of interacting with an in-person facilitator while having all-time access to the most up to date training content on harassment in the workplace.  

At the Training Company, we want to help you create a safe work environment that your employees deserve.  Our Workplace Violence, Discrimination and Harassment courses give your staff the tools they need to interact with each other in a respectful and safe manner.  

Your anti-harassment policies and training will never update themselves but by working with us as your training partner, we can make sure that your employees are always up to date. Get in touch with us today to learn more about the courses that we offer.