WCI, Inc
May 17, 2024

HR interactions

Zety® has released its HR Interactions Report, shedding light on how sexual harassment is handled by employees in the workplace. Polling nearly 1,000 people across the U.S., the study found that 38 percent of workers would not report being sexually harassed to HR. Specifically, 44 percent of women would not tell HR. In addition, 42 percent would not report witnessing the sexual harassment of a colleague and 43 percent wouldn’t report witnessing discrimination in general.

Workplace harassment reporting by gender. Gender disparities persist in the workplace, particularly when it comes to reporting hostile acts. Despite efforts to promote equality and foster safe environments, a significant portion of both women and men hesitate to report such instances:

  • 44 percent of women and 32 percent of men wouldn’t report being a victim of sexual harassment.
  • 40 percent of women and 45 percent of men wouldn’t report witnessing sexual harassment in the workplace.
  • 41 percent of women and 44 percent of men wouldn’t report witnessing discrimination.

These hesitations can stem from various factors, including fear of retaliation, disbelief in the effectiveness of reporting mechanisms, or concerns about damaging one's reputation. Understanding and addressing these barriers is essential for creating workplaces where everyone feels empowered to speak up against misconduct.

What employees do report to HR. Despite reluctance, employees are willing to bring many other concerning behaviors to HR's attention:

  • 62 percent would report coworkers avoiding work;
  • 62 percent would report coworkers threatening others or engaging in physical violence;
  • 62 percent would report witnessing vandalism;
  • 61 percent would expose witnessing fraud;
  • 60 percent would report coworkers wearing inappropriate clothes;
  • 60 percent would report coworkers regularly handling private issues while at work;
  • 58 percent would report coworkers coming in drunk or under the influence of drugs; and
  • 54 percent would report coworkers having an intimate relationship.

“The results from the Zety HR Interactions report should give pause to every single HR department – 38% of respondents said they would not report being a victim of sexual harassment. We should be in a place where everyone feels they can go to their employer and report hostile behavior,” said Dominika Kowalska, CPRW and career expert at Zety. “While progress has been made to decrease workplace harassment, the report findings show significant work still needs to be done to solve this troubling issue.”

HR as the first point of contact. Zety's report also explored the role HR plays when employees need professional support. The findings reveal that HR often functions as the first point of contact and the primary resource for employees when navigating workplace challenges.

  • Nearly half (48 percent) seek human resources’ support when encountering problems at work.
  • Conversely, only one-fourth (26 percent) opt to approach their manager or boss, with an equal proportion (26 percent) seeking a colleague's advice instead.

The majority of survey respondents also see HR as an important resource for dealing with and resolving interpersonal conflict, whether it be with a manager or coworker.

  • 65 percent would report interpersonal challenges with managers; and
  • 58 percent would report interpersonal challenges with coworkers.

Today’s workforce is also open to sharing when they are dealing with a personal challenge, especially on issues that may carry over and impact performance at work.

  • 64 percent would report the death of a relative;
  • 58 percent would report their mental health or well-being issues; and
  • 54 percent would report their divorce.

Seeking HR advice. Additional report findings indicate that people do see some value in working with HR for career support, mentoring and guidance.

  • 95 percent used HR's services for performance evaluations, feedback, or goal-setting, including: 54 percent worked with HR for feedback and performance evaluations at least once; and 41 percent of workers reported using HR for support on performance evaluations, feedback, or goal-setting more than once.
  • Workers are also likely to seek HR advice for help figuring out hard-to-understand company procedures (26 percent), being passed over for promotion (25 percent), or experiencing team management issues (21 percent). Other instances when people turn to HR for advice include:
    • Support for personal issues (20 percent);
    • Health and wellness issues (20 percent);
    • Problems with direct reports (20 percent);
    • Changes in company culture (19 percent);
    • Advice on career development (19 percent);
    • Requesting better office equipment (18 percent);
    • Legal advice (18 percent);
    • Payroll and benefits issues (18 percent); and
    • Mentorship or coaching (16 percent).

Experiences with HR. The HR Interactions Report sheds light not only on why employees engage with HR but also explores how, assessing the resulting experiences from these interactions. While there are some promising results from the survey, slightly less than half describe their experiences with HR as primarily positive, showing there’s still room for HR departments to improve their relationship with employees. Forty eight percent of participants describe their experiences with human resources as primarily positive, while 25 percent describe their interactions as neutral; 14 percent report a mix of positive and negative experiences; and 13 percent characterize their encounters with HR as predominantly negative.

“While HR undoubtedly fulfills many functions effectively and receives positive feedback, it's essential to recognize that there are serious gaps that need to be addressed. As the survey data suggests, there are areas where HR needs to enhance their practices and processes to better serve employees and the organization,” said Kowalska.

Source: Zety.

From WCI's HR Answers Now ©2024 CCH Incorporated and its affiliates. All rights reserved.

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