Imaging being sexually assaulted during work hours and feeling alone even if there´s a room full of other healthcare professionals and managers. Unfortunately, this situation occurs quite often by employees that lack an internal safety culture that supports the reporting process. Therefore, the question that arises is how to encourage reporting workplace violence among my staff? How to shift the mindset so that they don't feel afraid to speak up? What strategies can I take? Where do I start? This blog explores all possible answers to these questions.
Is creating a safety culture the answer?
Yes. The key is to ensure that the internal culture supports reporting. Employees need to be confident that their reports will be taken into account and will be handled. If employees don't feel comfortable with their manager, there should be someone in HR or higher to address their concerns. What needs to be avoided is a process of not addressing the issues and preventing a process of office gossip.
TIP: It's a great idea to include the possible scenarios that employees might want to report and explain during their training.
Three key action levels
The recommendations are to go for strategiesthat face the challenges of creating a safety culture and encourages the reporting of sexual assaults or any type of violence at work.
The first component of the strategy is promoting a culture of zero tolerance towards workplace violence. Understanding the three levels of prevention helps us focus on specific standards and skills needed to be developed in order to prevent workplace violence:
- Primary Prevention. Stop violence before it occurs. Identify risks and vulnerabilities, this presentation explores the steps you should take to mitigate workplace sexual harrasment
- Secondary Prevention. Immediate response to violence, there should be an efficient emergency response.
- Tertiary Prevention. Long-term responses to violence, efficient responses after the incident happens.
After acknowledging the three levels of prevention, it is time to take action. Here are 11 strategies to implement for employers and employees to promote a safety culture in the workplace:
Strategies for employers
- Supportive environment, active listening to your employees aligned with OSHA´s 2015 guidelines.
- Background checks on new employees. Workplace safety begins with hiring.
- Create a policy that prevents harassment. Include each level of the facility (managers, employees, executives, externals). Communicate the policy across your organization and make sure employees understand them correctly.
- Identify organizational risk factors that could lead to violence. Assess your facilities operation and factors that could become hazards. Are there areas that are understaffed? Is there inadequate security? Is violence currently tolerated? What's the perception towards it?
Strategies for employees
9. Active participation in the prevention program and policies as well as allowing constant feedback.
10. Active participation in the implementation of workplace violence programs and proper feedback regarding the weaknesses of the program.
11. Debriefing, feedback and active participation in counseling programs that express empathy after an incident happens.