Harassment at Workplace- An Employee Relations Perspective

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The business continues to evolve with the advent of technological advancements and innovative methods of finding a customer needs and reaching them. Due to this phenomena, in the last 10 years we have witnessed rapid changes and some global organizations become extinct due to their inability to sense the disruptions and velocity of change which has run in to them.

We all know that from time immemorial the women at work suffered at the hands of predatory men who sexual harassed at work place. Every democratic society, has law to safe guard the victims against such harassments. However, all the woes of women at work place were buried all these years. Did anyone ever thought it will erupt like a volcano one day till the #metoo movement gained momentum?  

All in a sudden, with technologies available to reach a wider audience uncensored and women empowered by collective mind set to expose the predatory urges of perpetrators, came to light in quick succession.

The revelations primarily made the perpetrators run to defend themselves and the organizations and intuitions have suddenly deprived of their power to guard themselves from the impact of revelations. We all witnessed the organization primarily attempted to safe guard their brand value and reputation by quickly disowning the men in the spot.  The organizations are yet to grasp the lag effect of #metoo movement. The drop in public perception on an organization’s ability to handle effectively the harassments, will be an attrition risk and attracting talent, especially one who aspire for women talent. So it assumes great significance that every organization has the POSH committee which has enough muscle to wrestle out the offenders on its own than a victim reaching for justice in court of law and in the process the repute of the organization gets tarnished in media.

Congenial work atmosphere means absence of any sort of harrasment  with enabling policy structure which  encourages the employees to adopt themselves to fairness in what ever they do within the organizational context. Many employees in an organization do not even have an idea of what is harassement and the some who were experiencing it in some form of other which is depicted as type of harassment, will have no idea on how to defend themselves or to  escalate to the appropriate level to get relief. Most of them instead of fighting out tend to fly out of the orgaization and many such flyers during the exit interview give some vague reasons in the fear of smooth exit and derisk the back ground verifcations in the new organization. Net result the organizations never gains line of sight in to such issues even through attriting employees unless they make a huge efforts to know the truth behind  such flyers.

When such employees are not able to fly away, they accumulate toxic effects of such harassments and tend to become either too timid and there by not able to be effective on the job or in some cases they also become toxic with retaliatory mind set gets moulded in to bully by themselves. In all probabilities not having mechanisms to handle workplace harassments with firmness will have a bad fallout.

ER frame work to a performing organization

If this is not kept under check the entire organization instead of focussing on moving ahead tend to retract or implode. How to keep a check in place so that employee relations are in the state which drives performance is a challenge before every organization today.

  • Ensure Employee Relations aspects  are part of overall organization’s business strategy and sustainability.
  • Adequate and updated policy frame work in place to address all probable ER  issues.
  • Processes and procedure to handle workplace or human rights excesses.
  • Have a communication at every stage of an employee’s life cycle on the behaviour expected out of his role from the organizational context.
  • Embed the vital ER elements as a part of leadership behaviour so that it gets cascaded easily.

Seasoned Employee relations expertise is needed on board for every organization to lay foundational structures and to stand as a sentinel to uphold the human rights and work place rights of its employees. A good ER expertise in an organization apart from providing needed structure to handle workplace violations, help the organization for sustenance of its performance and repute.

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Narendra Kumar is working with Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt. Limited as National Head Employee Relations & Compliances for the last two years. And prior to his current role, has varied 10 years with The Coca-Cola Company as National Head Supply Chain HR, Business process Lead for SAP implementation project and as Zonal Head HR. Naren is seasoned HR professional with over 2 decades of experience in HR & IR with varied industries such as Ports, chemicals and Glass. Naren 5 year stint in Army as a short service officer. He is an active member of CII National Committee on IR, which influences Govt on Policies and employment laws frame work. An avid Golfer who seldom misses the T offs on Saturdays. He earned Masters in Business Administration in Human Resource Management from School of Management, Pondicherry University.

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