As your company grows, you will need more workers to meet the demand for the services or goods you provide. Increasing demand will eventually mean that you need to hire more workers. Each of those new employees will increase the chances of conflict among your staff members.
When you only have a few employees, you can sometimes ignore the possibility of bad behavior and interpersonal conflicts. However, as your staff roster expands, you will also need to take more deliberate steps to protect your business from potentially expensive harassment claims.
Disputes between workers can easily snowball into complaints against your business for allowing a hostile work environment. Companies can lose hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting against harassment claims and even more if the courts rule against them. Your business can minimize its risks of expensive claims with careful hiring and onboarding practices.
Make your harassment policy clear
For an employee to bring a successful claim against your company because of what another worker does to them, that worker will have to show that you facilitated or at least permitted abusive behavior.
If you have a clear no-harassment policy in your employee handbook, worker contracts and training materials, it will be harder for an individual worker to assert that you violated their rights by ignoring or creating a hostile work environment.
Providing your workers with training on what constitutes harassment and having a clear policy for how they can report misconduct may serve your business’s interests. Bigger companies may actually benefit from creating a secondary reporting system as well in case a specific member of the management team or human resources plays a role in one worker’s complaints.
Treat every complaint like a serious issue
Ideally, with proactive policies and training, you can prevent much worker misconduct. However, you also need to recognize that some workers may still behave inappropriately, so your management and human resources teams need to be ready to address harassment claims whenever they arise.
From employing a compassionate approach to taking the initial report from the complaining worker to carefully documenting the investigation that results, the way that your company responds to a harassment claim can be as important as the policies against harassing others in the first place. When your company has proactively addressed the possibility of workplace misconduct, you will have less of a risk of workers claiming you violated their rights.
Carefully complying with employment laws and identifying when workers become possible liabilities can help growing companies minimize their operational risks.