I had some time in between meetings the other day so I stopped by my local Panera Bread restaurant to pass the time. While I sat in the restaurant enjoying my soup and iced tea, I couldn’t help but overhear a store manager conducting a new hire orientation. This was my lucky day. I had picked the front row seat! There was the customary stack of papers that needed to be filled out, but what caught my attention was the communication between the manager and new employee regarding the company’s sexual harassment policy.
The manager told the new employee that she should just sign the policy and read it later. He said, “It is our sexual harassment policy that says that we don’t do that here.” I am pretty sure it said more than that. One thing is for sure, the manager should have said more to the employee about it. He brushed it off as if it was an unimportant formality and not a big deal.
This is one of the most important policies for any company. If only the manager would have spent just two more minutes on this topic, he would have set some key expectations for the employee and for the entire work environment.
Every company should have a basic sexual harassment policy which is reviewed in EVERY new hire orientation. Just spend a couple of extra minutes and it will be meaningful. If I had to make three quick summary statements, here is what I would say to new hires:
1. Our company doesn’t tolerate any harassment of any kind in our workplace. This includes harassment of a sexual nature.
2. If you experience or witness any harassment, please bring it to management or HR.
3. You will not experience any retaliation for bringing valid harassment issues to the attention of the appropriate members of management.
Watching and listening to this orientation made me realize that so many managers just go through the motions. They obviously don’t realize the impact they have in setting expectations for new employees and the entire workplace. Setting expectations begins on “day one” for new employees.