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Return on investment for harassment prevention training.

Updated: Oct 6, 2020

For decades sexual harassment training has been a "check the box" approach. We keep track to make sure everyone has completed their training and pat ourselves on the back for a job well done. But with the recent google walkout and the #metoo and #timesup movements - employees are not only asking for a more robust approach to harassment training, they are now demanding for something better.

A question we hear frequently, is "what's the Return on Investment (ROI) for harassment training anyways?" And like most things related to employee wellness, it can be difficult to pinpoint a specific dollar amount. Here are just a few of the costs associated with harassment in the workplace.

1. How much does a harassment claim cost?

On average it takes 318 days for a harassment claim to be finalized. It's likely that numerous people within your organization will need to be paid for their involvement with the claim. Time will be spent on an investigation, HR and Legal will be involved, and employees will need to participate - which means a reduction in your businesses productivity, but more on that later.

When we take a look at the cost of a harassment claim, companies can expect to pay an average of $160,000 to settle a claim before it goes to court. If the claim goes to a jury trial that number can easily double or triple. To date the largest sum awarded to an employee was $168 million dollars. That's a whole lot of moolah.

2. Employee's ain't getting sh** done.

It may come as no surprise that when harassment is happening in our workplaces our teams productivity is affected. Imagine you're an employee who is being harassed by someone at work. Now imagine how much of your time might be spent thinking or reflecting on what has happened to you. Time spent trying to avoid the person. And, often, employees will talk to one another about what has happened to them, taking up not only their work time but the work time of their coworkers. The average cost associated with the loss in productivity is $22,500 per person working in a team affected by harassment. That's right, per person on the team. Meaning even those that are not being directly harassed are affected and their productivity suffers.

3. There is a revolving door of employees.

It's unlikely that an employee is going to stick around for a long period of time when they are being harassed at work. People experiencing workplace harassment are 6.5 times more likely to leave their jobs. And unless you're conducting exit interviews that include specific questions related to workplace harassment issues, it's unlikely that you'll ever become aware of the harassment that led to their departure.

It's estimated that turnover can cost companies anywhere between 16 to 22 percent of the employee's salary to replace them. That number begins to add up when employees are leaving our organizations frequently.

As a side note - if you find out during an exit interview that the person is leaving due to harassment, it's time to put your investigator cap on and look into the situation! Need a handy checklist to keep your investigation organized? Make sure you get your name on our mailing list!

4. Customers boycott your company.

I'm sure if you asked around you'd likely find someone who has, or is currently, boycotting a brand or company. With the public awareness surrounding sexual harassment claims at an all time high and still gaining momentum it should come as no surprise that companies have experienced consumer boycotts of their products and services. And for many consumers, boycotting brands and companies is one of the easiest ways to take a stand and make an impact. While many boycotts have not had a significant financial impact, they have created awareness of organizational issues and in response many companies are forced to take action - like implement training, update policies and procedures, etc.

5. What you say on the internet stays on the internet.

With company review sites such as Glassdoor, Fairy Godboss, and Indeed, employees are now able to tell the world when companies have sexual harassment issues. Just do a quick search and you'll find reviews from past and current employees who are warning others of the behaviors of those in their company. And with 79% of people stating that they would not accept a job with a higher salary from a company that failed to act in response to a report of sexual harassment, these reviews could mean you're missing out on the perfect candidates.

6. Soooooo... I'm going to need some more time off...

The 2010 National Health Interview Survey, found that people who experienced harassment or bullying at work were 1.7 times more likely to take at least 2 weeks off of work in comparison to employees who did not. There are both mental and physical health issues that can arise if our employees are experiencing workplace harassment. It was found that around 1 in 10 women who experienced workplace harassment would later exhibit such sever symptoms that they met the definition of PTSD. Health issues not only affect our employees wellness, they also impact our productivity, turnover rates, and much more.

How can we create change in our organization and help prevent harassment from happening?

There are so many aspects of a business that can be negatively affected by workplace harassment, yet the trainings we're using remain the same. We play a video, have employees complete online modules, track to make sure they've completed it in a timely fashion and then move on with our lives. Yet, for real change to take place in our organizations we need to do more. We need to train and educate employees on how they can be allies and advocates for change. We need to help them understand their role in holding everyone in the organization accountable. And we need to allow them time to reflect on how they would respond in tricky situations - because they ARE going to happen.

About Define the Line: We're on a mission to eliminate workplace harassment. Define the Line is a harassment prevention training in the form of a comic book. With activity sheets integrated throughout, Define the Line gets employees to answer questions about their own perceptions, to think about what they would do in a similar situation and helps create a safe space to reflect on their own actions. Also, it's in a comic book format which is not only super cool, but it's also a great way to train employees. Take a peek at one of the scenarios here. Ready to bring Define the Line to your team? Be sure to check out our online store or contact us at

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