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By Dave Druzynski, Chief People Officer, Auto/Mate
In today’s age of social media, Weinstein and #MeToo, preventing workplace harassment needs to be at the forefront of every dealer’s mind. A single incident can hit social media so quickly that you can have an online boycott of your business being set up before you even learn about the inappropriate behaviors of your employees that led to it.
When it comes to preventing workplace harassment, you can no longer rely on that outdated policy buried deep in your employee handbook, or a cheesy video from the 1980s. States have begun to implement requirements for annual training and model harassment policies, and I expect they’ll be aggressively enforced.
Even if you do update your policy and train your employees, you need to understand that your dealership’s acceptable standards aren’t set by what’s in your policy, they’re set by the behavior you tolerate each and every day.
What do I mean by this? I hear so many times about that single employee (we’ll call him Harry) who’s rough around the edges and doesn’t tiptoe the “appropriate behavior line.” Harry jumps over it with reckless abandon. When employees come to your management to complain about Harry’s behavior, they’re frequently told to brush it off, he doesn’t mean anything by it because that’s just “Harry being Harry.” Does this sound familiar?
It doesn’t matter if your intention is to have a safe workplace. If you continue to dismiss Harry’s behavior because he’s a great producer, or you just don’t have the energy to deal with it, you’re essentially giving him the green light to not only continue his inappropriate behavior, you’re encouraging him to escalate and see what else he can get away with.
First, it’s important to understand that harassment is a form of discrimination that isn’t just limited to sexual harassment. Harassment is unwelcome conduct that can be based on other factors such as race, religion, age or disability. This behavior becomes illegal where enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or the conduct is severe or pervasive enough that a reasonable person would consider the workplace to be intimidating, hostile or abusive. It’s also illegal to retaliate against someone who has filed a discrimination charge.
A culture of tolerance is a culture of inclusion. Inevitably, however, everyone makes a hiring mistake. What happens if you hire a bully or harasser? What do you do when you receive a formal complaint or witness inappropriate behavior? Is it your responsibility to monitor and address your employees’ conduct outside of the workplace, or even online?
If you want to learn more about what constitutes harassment, how to prevent it and what to do if someone at your dealership is accused, attend my 2019 NADA Show workshop. You’ll learn how to:
Prevent Workplace Harassment is scheduled for the following days and times:
Thursday, January 24 from 1:00pm – 2:00pm in Room 3003W
Saturday, January 26 from 10:30am – 11:30 am in Room 3002W
I’ll see you in San Francisco!