- A majority of employees in a survey by employee feedback management platform AllVoices said they believed their workplaces had measures to prevent harassment, and 64% said their workplaces made harassment resources available to them. But many had either experienced or witnessed instances of harassment.
- Forty-four percent of the 822 full-time workers surveyed said they had experienced workplace harassment with their current companies, with examples ranging from in-person bullying to abuse of power and microaggressions, among other forms. Some experiences extended beyond physical space; about 41% said they experienced online harassment or cyberbullying.
- Half of employees said they reported harassment they experienced, and most (55%) brought their reports to their managers. Of the 18% who did not report harassment, 24% feared retaliation, 21% did not believe reporting would accomplish anything and 18% said they did not know if the harassment "was a big enough deal" to justify reporting.
That most of the respondents in the survey report harassment to their managers could speak to a broader problem with harassment prevention policies.
For one thing, it is not always clear that managers are equipped to handle such situations. A 2019 study of managers and leaders by training company pelotonRPM found that respondents missed key practices when presented with a harassment, bias, discrimination or bullying complaint. For example, 39% did not ask questions to identify potential witnesses to an alleged incident, and 56% did not explain their organizations' anti-retaliation policies or define retaliatory behaviors to the complainant, witnesses or alleged perpetrators.
At the same time, HR teams may not have the trust of employees. A 2020 Workest survey found one-fifth of workers did not trust HR, while 30% actively avoided going to HR with problems. When asked for their reasoning, 35% of respondents said they did not trust HR to help them, and 31% said they feared retaliation. Others reported witnessing instances of poor HR, hurtful management practices or discrimination.
Similar sentiments have been implicated in recent high-profile harassment stories. In its August lawsuit against video game publisher Activision Blizzard, California's Department of Fair Housing and Employment cited a "lack of trust" between the company's employees and HR staff, and the agency alleged that female employees who reported harassment were subjected to retaliation.
Weeks later, a group of Apple employees published stories of harassment and discrimination alongside claims that many of those who filed complaints were ignored by the company's HR department.
Employers may need to update outdated training procedures in order to address new forms of harassment, particularly as work moves to more digital formats, sources previously told HR Dive. That training also may need to be more inclusive of groups that face forms of targeted harassment, such as the LGBTQ community.