HR Editorial

How Automation Helps to Prevent Workplace Harassment

March 28, 2022
5 Minute Read

Originally posted on HR Dive.

A staggering 44% of people have experienced some kind of harassment at work, according to a recent study conducted by All Voices. Even with the shift to a remote heavy workforce in recent years, the same study found that 38% of people still experienced harassment remotely through email, video conferencing, chat apps or phone. In addition, 24% believe that harassment continues or gets worse through remote channels. 

Harassment of any kind in the workplace can lead to a drop in employee morale and productivity with the potential to ruin the workplace culture along with larger implications if not handled swiftly and appropriately. Every moment of delay can cause irreparable damage which is why setting your HR compliance procedures up to safeguard against workplace harassment is key. 

Help protect your team by following the below steps.

Create, Adopt and Distribute

  1. Teach and Learn
  2. Enforce

Create, Adopt and Distribute

Your company’s anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies need to exist and ideally within the employee handbook. These policies need to include as much detail as possible to avoid misinterpretation by any employee. In addition, spending some time providing real life examples as reference so employees can see examples of what the prohibited conduct looks like is incredibly helpful. It is also critical to include the complaint process so employees understand what actions are being taken and how to submit claims if they experience or witness discrimination or harassement.

Anti-harassment policies should include the following:

  • A clear explanation of the prohibited conduct.
  • Assurance that employees who make claims of harassment or provide information related to such claims will be protected from retaliation.
  • A clearly described complaint process that provides accessible avenues for complainants. The process must include a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation.
  • Assurance that the employer will protect the confidentiality of the individuals bringing harassment claims to the extent possible.
  • Commitment that the employer will take immediate and appropriate corrective action when it determines that harassment has occurred.

All new employees should receive the most up to date copy of the employee handbook upon joining the company. Reading and understanding with an open door to their HR contact for questions is essential to any new employee. In addition, a knowledge check is a great tool to use to ensure the employee understands the policy.

Tip: When distributing the handbook, consider utilizing a tool such as Journey, that delivers the handbook along with associated training and knowledge checks to ensure employee comprehension. Utilizing a tool with customizable, conditional learning paths allows for more thorough comprehension of the material as it can be split apart into bite size pieces across a variety of learning mediums. The same tool can also be used to collect eSignature at completion as collect feedback to enhance the path training forward.

Once provided, it is important to require acknowledgement of receipt by all employees. Don’t rely on email for this - DocQ it! This is an area where relying on automation can save time for your HR compliance team and improve the overall experience, not to mention helping declutter your inbox. By creating a workflow to distribute the updated handbook to employees with a request for acceptance and signature by an expiration date makes this step a breeze. 

Workflow for collecting eSignature

Teach and Learn

Be mindful that employees may not know how to recognize harassment and how to respond to victims, so take the opportunity to teach them. Teaching employees to promote a harassment-free work environment sets the organization as a whole up for success. By learning how to protect themselves and their co-workers, employees become empowered which in turn stiffles workplace harassment. An official training at the beginning of employment sets the tone and expectations for new employees as they are onboarding. 

Providing continual training as well as refresher courses available at any time sets the tone for the workplace. As these trainings occur, HR should then go back to the handbook and provide additional and/or updated examples to ensure a robust policy. 

Tip: As mentioned above, a tool that can auto enroll based on time, role, department or other identifying feature is a great way to ensure employees are up to date with required training. 

In addition, make sure your HR team and policies are always forward moving by providing outside training and access to experts in the field. As these trainings occur, the HR team will go back to the handbook and provide additional and/or updated examples to ensure a robust policy for all employees to follow.


Build out a workflow for employees to submit complaints and respond by quickly ensuring action. The workflow needs to provide appropriate notifications to parties involved as the process moves through the steps. By allowing for anonymous reporting, 85% are more likely to report harassment according to All Voices. Additionally, respondents of the same study believed that their coworkers would be more encouraged to report a complaint with an anonymous channel in place. 

When designing the complaint procedure the below are key considerations:

  • Allow for anonymous reporting.
  • Ensure confidentiality and offer interim protection.
  • Explain to all involved that the information collected during the investigation is confidential to the extent the situation allows. You may need to take immediate action to protect the alleged victim or accurser to prevent retaliation and/or continued harassment.
  • Choose the right Investigator
  • Having multiple genders available for this role helps the employee feel more comfortable with the process.
  • Follow the clearly defined investigation process.
  • Includes defining the issue, gathering a witness list, sources for evidence, and information as well as conducting and documenting the interviews following appropriate question lists.
  • Make a decision and close the investigation.
  • Once the final decision is made, ensure all documentation is complete and communication has been delivered to appropriate parties. 

Workflow for Employee Complaint End to End Process

What DocQ can do for you

Ensuring HR compliance is arguably one of the most important aspects of business today and this process requires flawless execution. When thinking through compliance there are areas where automation can execute keeping your HR team focused on the more human centric areas. Our no code self service process automation solution can help. DocQ lets your teams define their workflows, create conditions, generate documents, obtain e-Signatures and integrate with third party systems.

Click here and set up a time to see DocQ live today.

written by

Rachel Bucher

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