Legislation attempts to tackle issue of workplace harassment
Following the introduction of Bill 168 – Preventing Workplace Violence – in Ontario, every workplace has to do five things to be compliant with these new regulations: have a risk assessment done every year; put in place an incident reporting system; have training on how to handle situations of harassment of workplace violence; do an independent investigation when there is a complaint of harassment; and have zero-tolerance policy statement.
Ontario isn’t the only province to have introduced such legislation, but it is a good example of the complexity of harassment and violence-centered legislation and how difficult it can be to navigate all its moving parts to ensure compliance.
The matter has been gaining a lot of traction from tech companies, who are looking to innovate the way businesses and organizations handle workplace violence.
“We wanted to look at the causes [of workplace harassment]. Like a lot of the ideas in health and safety, that is a symptom, not a cause.” Says Michael Rosenberg, President, AI2HR. AI2HR is a predictive tool which provides data to employers and relevant teams (safety, HR) to help pinpoint issues and improve a company’s response to workplace violence and harassment.
Essentially, Rosenberg and his team wanted to figure out what the root causes of workplace violence are. To do this they looked at four key areas in an organization where harassment and violence could stem from. For example, when it comes to policies and procedures, organizations which don’t properly enforce them are vulnerable because workers don’t know what they can and can’t do.
“The second big one, which is obvious, is culture,” says Rosenberg. “If leaders are a bunch of bullies, everything will go downhill.” Thirdly, they looked at the physical workplace and the emotional and external factors that contribute to workplace health, safety and security. Lastly, Rosenberg looked at supports offered by an organization, from training to psychological supports.
Having good data (from tech) helps employers find the root causes. Rosenberg says that tech can also help break the mass of data available into smaller areas – “what it does is it identifies the causes, not just the symptoms, and it breaks it down into teams. Because let’s face it, within any organization, the team depends on who the manager is.”
What tech does is break things down into small units, to identify specific issues and so you can address the cause to alleviate the symptoms.
Rosenberg reckons that employers are going to be forced to invest in more tech solutions, simply because of the potentiality of lawsuits or higher interest rates – and with this impacting an organization’s bottom line, this is something that businesses and organizations will want to take seriously.
“There is no neat line between health and safety, DEI, human resources, because they all impact your people.” When it comes to workplace violence, OHS and HR go hand in hand because while policies and procedures may stem from the HR side, ultimately it is about keeping workers safe which is “a basic need,” says Rosenberg.