Letting harassment run wild at your self-storage facility isn’t only shameful, but it could be a costly mistake.
Case in point, employers paid more than $68 million in 2019 to settle harassment claims made to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity commission.
Monetary disincentives aside, self-storage businesses big and small have role to play in standing against all forms of harassment in the workplace. Creating a work environment that is safe and free of unwanted harassment is an important responsibility that every employer must provide—not only because it is the right thing to do, but it’s also the law.
Your storage business could be sued for creating a hostile work environment if you do not do enough to address all forms of workplace harassment. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, harassment is defined as unwelcome conduct based on one’s:
- Sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, or pregnancy)
- National origin
- Age (40 and up)
- Genetic information
Of course, you don’t want any type of harrassment going on at your workplace. But where should you begin when it comes to taking a proactive approach to preventing it occuring in the first place?
It is not enough to respond to and stop harassment in the workplace when it occurs. Self-storage operators should implement policies and create a culture where it is well known that all forms of harrassment are taken seriously and not tolerated.
Here’s three key actions to take to reduce incidents of harrassment from occuring at your self-storage facility:
1. Establish an anti-harassment policy
Having an anti-harassment policy should be your number one priority. Without rules in place, how can you expect to enforce them?
Your policy should be as specific as possible in outlining what constitutes harassment, what the consequences are for violating the policy, and how incidents should be reported. Visit the EEOC for additional guidelines on developing a policy.
Also keep in mind how your policy handles harassment that takes place off-premises in a remote work environment. The rise in telecommuting during the pandemic has given rise to increased harassment over email, video and chat platforms. You’d be wise to cover such situations when developing a new anti-harassment policy or update your existing procedures if needed.
2. Make prevention training mandatory for all employees
Everyone at your self-storage business, whether you have four employees or 400, plays a role in the prevention of workplace harassment. To play this role effectively, employees need to be trained how to recognize harassment taking place and what to do in such situations. People often don’t know how to react in the moment when they witness harassment, but with the right training they will be able to respond better in the future.
You can either hire an instructor to visit your business, or organize training via an online provider such as HRDirect, Everfi or Easy Llama. Behave At Work provides a handful of free training videos in addition to paid training.
3. Lead by example
Self-storage business are often very tight knit, so it is important that the owners and management lead by example.
Company leadership should announce new anti-harrassment policies and trainings, and attend in-person trainings. This shows that the initiative comes from the top and is taken extremely seriously. In addition, leadership should pay close attention to employee interactions and stay vigilant for signs of any harassment taking place and step in if needed. On the other end of the spectrum, leadership must also not undermine their own efforts by engaging in problematic behavior such as telling inappropriate jokes or dating subordinates.
Create a safe work environment
It is the job of every storage operator to make sure they offer employees a safe and secure environment to work. Hold the anti-harassment training now, before an incident takes place that requires you to hold a training session. By taking such steps you not only reduce your company’s liability, but also minimize the potential harms faced by your hard working staff.