A workplace harassment investigation can be a traumatic event which affects not only those directly involved, but often causes extensive collateral damage. A healing process which helps staff feel heard and acknowledged is a very important step for re-establishing or rebuilding workplace norms.
Restoring norms following an harassment investigation is an important step.
Following a discussion about the role the of the investigation and the purpose and goals of the Workplace Restoration, participants at a recent Workplace Fairness lunch identified 10 best practices. Whether an investigation is founded or unfounded these are important steps:
- Facilitate, when appropriate, a confidential written agreement between the complainant and the respondent that is separate from performance measures.
- Provide regular and ongoing feedback to all staff.
- Ensure leadership is visible and committed to “say” and “do” accountability.
- Support leadership to share and acknowledge ownership of contributing factors.
- Follow up with the team and others affected to develop a plan and strategy with common goals and processes for the group.
- Facilitate a safe dialogue to re-establish the norms of respect and dignity by asking questions, creating a common language, and ensure the experience is normalized for all affected.
- Provide skill-building support for supervisors and those involved through training and 1-on-1 coaching, focusing on listening skills and “I language”.
- Maintain a forward-looking aspect to the restoration process.
- Appoint a new neutral facilitator who was not involved in the investigation and ensure impartiality in all follow-up dialogue.
- Ensure a restorative and healing process which allows all to be acknowledged for their experiences.
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A Workplace Restoration can help improve employee engagement and productivity following a significant negative workplace event, such as a harassment investigation.
Lately Michelle and I have been thinking about Workplace Restorations. If you live in Calgary, the first thing that may leap in your mind with the word restoration could be flood damage. I am sure there are many households in Southern Alberta watching the waterways and the precipitation forecasts this spring. The word restoration implies that things can be put back the way they were found. If you lost a basement of goods last summer, I am sure you have a visceral knowledge that you can’t put things back the way they were, even once the mud has been cleared.
Following a significant negative event in a workplace it becomes crucial in the workplace to redefine a plan for the future which integrates and restores. Like the damage following a flood, an event in the workplace can leave emotional scars. People need not only acknowledgement for past wrongs and experiences, they also benefit from being part of redefining a plan for the future. Too often following a harassment investigation, for example, remedies that address collateral damage of bystanders is missed.
A Workplace Restoration can be a significant help addressing collateral damage after a harassment investigation.
A Workplace Restoration is a process which provides a safe comfortable environment for all to express and explore their beliefs, concerns and hopes for a positive workplace future. Through a process with an impartial 3rd-party facilitator, they define their criteria for a positive working environment, and a detailed plan with specific actionable items. A Workplace Restoration can involve individual coaching in addition to large and small group facilitation. Training may be an important desired outcome from a restoration, and will be most effective if staff contribute to the training plan in the restoration process.
To read more about what you can do as a manager towards restoring the workplace, visit these resources from the Government of Canada.