Survey: 45% of employees have seen a colleague get harassed at work

Recent data from international specialist insurer Hiscox shows that 45% of employees have seen a colleague get harassed at work, with 42% of people in this pool saying that they didn’t speak up about it. In addition, 78% of those accused of harassment at work are men and 73% of those who’ve been harassed say the person who did it had a had a higher-level job than them. Overall, 35% of employees “feel they have been harassed at work” – 41% for women.

Here are the most common ways people get harassed

Although the study notes that “many claims cite multiple forms of harassment,” here are the ways this happens the most frequently:

  • “Gender/Sex:” 50%
  • “Race/Ethnicity:” 17%
  • “Religion:” 15%
  • “Sexual Orientation:” 13%
  • “Age:” 13%

The study – carried out by Wakefield Research, who surveyed 500 American, adult, full-time workers – shows that 36% of employers don’t have “anti-harassment training” for their workers. Still, 51% of workers say that their workplaces have put “new policies related to workplace harassment” into place over the last year. But the report then added that “25% of respondents say the new policies were the result of social movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp.”

Patrick Mitchell, Management Liability Product Head at Hiscox USA, commented on the research in a statement:

“As the spotlight on workplace harassment intensifies, companies must be aware of the peril they face by ignoring this issue … Businesses of all sizes face steep financial, reputational, and workforce consequences if they fail to take steps to prevent, detect and mitigate inappropriate behavior in the workplace,” he said.

Here’s why people don’t speak up about harassment at work

Keep in mind that respondents had the option to pick more than one reason:

  • “Fear of hostile work environment:” 53%
  • “Fear of retaliation from employer:” 46%
  • “Fear management wouldn’t properly handle the situation:” 39%
  • “Fear of retaliation from the harasser(s):” 33%

How to stop harassment from happening in the office

Unfortunately, some of this behavior is inevitable at work, but the study includes some points on how to stop it from happening in the workplace. One of the recommendations is to engage in the process of “educating your employees about harassment: what it is, how to avoid it and how to report it if it happens.” Another is to start “maintaining a zero-tolerance policy regarding harassment, and making sure all of your employees are aware of it. This policy should be in writing, and each employee should sign to indicate they have received and read it.”