Workplace Misconduct Reaching Record Highs Despite Remote Work (And What To Do About It)
Employees today are feeling more uneasy at work then they have in the past, and when they go to HR they are being brushed aside.
Workplace misconduct, including sexual harassment, discrimination, bullying, fraud or even bribery is at a high. So much so that 51% of office workers indicate they have suffered from this misconduct. A recent Trust Gap report indicated these staggering results. Nearly 48% of those who reported any sort of misconduct said they had experienced misconduct as frequently as once a month.
HR is not taking quick enough action to prevent or even punish this misconduct. Over a third of workers in the united states believe that the organization they work for would brush aside at least one type of workplace misconduct if it would mean damaging the bottom line or reputation of the company. This among many other surprising statistics.
“People are experiencing misconduct and organizations know that misconduct is taking place and that they don’t have a handle on it,” says Tori Reichman, chief customer officer at Vault Platform. “There’s some slow movement to do something about it but we haven’t crossed that chasm yet.”
Contrary to what one might think, the switch to online work following the pandemic has played a pivotal role in rise of workplace misconduct, especially sexual harassment. Over one In four employees say they have experienced unwelcome sexual behavior online since the start of the pandemic according to a survey completed by a global tech learning company called Epignosis and nonprofit named The Purple Campaign
In general, many companies HR systems and processes are out of date. This is common across nearly every industry since companies typically focus little on their HR department and solely on their core business. Outdated methods and passive forms of reporting fail to deliver the results that bring closure for this misconduct.
Companies that are utilizing HR outsourcing companies have isolated themselves from this issue. This notable factor allows employers to focus less on the intricacies of navigating misconduct and keeping up with the current laws which are ever changing in this environment. Legacy systems lack the current innovation and proactive learning that HR outsourcing companies provide for their clients.
“What legacy systems lack is the ability to follow up and to close the loop with reporters — let them know that they have heard their concern and they’ve conducted an investigation, regardless of the outcome,” Reichman says. “That goes a long way for strengthening trust with employees.”
What needs to happen for any real change to happen.
Most importantly employers need to create an environment where their employees feel safe to report misconduct, and then update the processes that they use to deal with this misconduct. Businesses need to ensure that when this sort of behavior occurs, employees do feel safe to report it. Once they do report it the process needs to be smooth and quick so as to not cause more headache to the traumatized employees.
“You need both those things to be able to build trust with employees,” Riechman says. “[You need to say that] speaking up is not only welcome in this organization but encouraged.”
Professional Employer Organizations (PEO), like AllianceHR, prioritize updating current systems while ensuring the safety, comfort, and anonymity of the reporter. Using HR outsourcing organizations is one of an employer’s biggest tools in creating a more equitable workplace.
“[Employers] really have to be willing to put something in the employee’s hands that says if something happens, we want you to tell us,” Reichman says. “By pushing what your policies are around misconduct, it helps employees understand their experiences much more easily than they otherwise would.”