Reviewing Core Values for a Psychologically Safe Workplace After #MeToo

Since the Harvey Weinstein allegations surfaced in early October of 2017, the Internet has been peppered with sensitive #metoo stories. Vulnerable stories of sexual harassment continue to be courageously shared on social media and other news outlets.

Some are calling it an HR crisis but for HR leaders it can be an opportunity to renew company policies and explore innovative strategies for workplace safety.

A staggering number of these accounts occurred in the workplace. Some are calling it an HR crisis but for HR leaders it can be an opportunity to renew company policies and explore innovative strategies for workplace safety.

Real-Time Solutions

HR leaders are rushing to the cause to mobilize preventative policies and programs to eradicate threatening behavior before it arises. Through apps and social media, an employee can post anonymously about workplace conflicts in real-time, making it critical for companies to have effective plans in place that offer real-time solutions to these sensitive issues.

When one major company is reprimanded in the media for handling a sexual harassment complaint poorly, all HR managers get a finger pointed at them. The pressure is definitely on. This breakthrough moment in our culture can be a time for positive change in the workplace — a time to revisit and evolve company values and set a solid foundation for managers and employees to work proactively together in a psychologically safe environment.

Gallup surveyed men and women in a 2017 study on the seriousness of sexual harassment in the workplace. The study revealed that 63 percent of women and 54 percent of men do not feel that people are sensitive enough to workplace sexual harassment. These numbers have risen by 20 percent since a similar study conducted in 1998.

Most orgs have a zero-tolerance policy, but HR cannot manage complaints if they are never reported Click To Tweet

Tana Session, an HR professional with decades of experience shared in Forbes, “Most organizations have a zero-tolerance policy for harassment of any kind in the workplace, but HR cannot properly manage complaints if they are never reported. Unfortunately, more times than not, these incidences go unreported due to fear — fear of being fired, retaliated against, considered a troublemaker, embarrassed or not taken seriously.”

Committing to Core Values

It’s one thing to have policies set in place for discrimination, harassment, and bullying issues, but it’s equally as important to ensure that all employees are made fully aware of the company’s commitment to these core guidelines.

These policies serve as the backbone of the company’s core values which build on the overall workplace culture — that culture attributes to the well being of employees and the success of the company.

Open-Door Policy for Vulnerable Conversations

When an employee feels heard, they feel valued. An employee that feels valued will ultimately enhance the overall morale of the workplace.

Offering an open-door policy for communication is key to creating a psychologically safe workplace environment. Employees need to know that their voice will be heard when they approach their manager with whatever it is they are struggling with at work. Whether it’s a sexual harassment complaint, a request to work remotely, or a roadblock with a project, as a leader and protector of the culture of the company, it’s important to take on each conversation with empathy and an open ear.

According to Gallup, “Team and individual safety are both essential, but individual safety must come first in the process of building psychological safety. And it must come first for any hope of improved engagement and performance.”

A Time for HR Leaders to Shine

Currently, the media spotlight is shining brightly on corporate culture and publicly evaluating how organizations handle harassment issues in the workplace. Now is the perfect time for HR leaders to shine by implementing inclusive policies and forward-thinking strategies.

Some effective steps for cultivating a healthy workplace culture include reviewing and renewing company policies, committing to psychological safety, and offering real-time dialogue and feedback to employees through an open-door policy.

A psychologically safe environment lowers the risk of unhappy employees, reduces dips in productivity, and avoids a potential HR disaster rippling across the Internet.

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