Statistics Canada Report Finds Harassment Rampant in Workplaces

Statistics Canada Report Finds Harassment Rampant in Workplaces

Harassment in the workplace is a massive problem in Canada, and a recent study by Statistics Canada confirms – something needs to be done about this, yesterday. Harassment, as it is referred to in this study, includes verbal, and in some cases physical abuse, threats and violence, and sexual harassment.

9,000 respondents across Canada, between the ages of 15 and 64, who participated in the workforce in 2016, were analyzed, and the study revealed that approximately 20 percent of women, and 13 percent of men, reported being harassed at some point during the year at their workplace.

In a shocking revelation, 27 percent of women and 21 percent of men working within a health occupation, reported being harassed. Not coincidentally, it was also observed that employees in jobs requiring various forms of face-to-face interaction with the public, reported the highest incidents of harassment.

Clearly, public facing professionals need to be better protected, as the data suggests these employees are the most vulnerable of all. It was also found that within many facets of the study, women encountered harassment at a much higher rate than men. This is especially the case when physical abuse and violence is prevalent, as well as in sexual harassment incidents.

The study also looked at the psycho-social work environment as a factor to help uncover associations of harassment in the workplace. It was found that there was an association between the quality of the work environment, and harassment. See our recent blog on Mental Health in the Workplace: Psycho-social Working conditions, or click the link below to learn more about the study:

What Should Employers Know?

The primary obligation for employers, as outlined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), is to create and implement a harassment policy and program, with clear guidelines for reporting incidents, and remedying the situation and enforcing disciplinary procedures. Companies found to be in breach of their legal obligations as outlined in OHSA, could face large fines. Although, it is well documented in other research conducted by Statics Canada, that non-compliance is also rampant among management, unfortunately.

Harassment in the workplace has many negative effects on the individual involved and the work environment. It can cause increased absenteeism, turnover, and stress, and decrease productivity, motivation, and morale. As a manager, it’s important to be able to recognize and respond to harassment in the workplace, and work together with your team to ensure harassment does not occur. Some tips for dealing with harassment in the workplace include:

  • Having defined rules, policies and procedures, and clearly communicating a zero tolerance harassment policy. Ensure your employees are aware of what is considered harassment, and have policies and procedures for if it occurs. For example, have a reporting protocol for when harassment takes place and a disciplinary action protocol.
  • Enforce a zero tolerance policy for harassment.
  • Ensure discretion when handling reports of harassment.
  • Educate yourself and your team! Check out our webinars on Communication in Teams and Bullying and Harassment.
  • Promote a safe and happy work environment – be aware of changes in behaviour, chemistry and atmosphere in your workplace.

Harassment can be hard to talk about, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important to recognize and prepare for. If you believe you are being harassed at work, there a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Report incidents of harassment immediately to the appropriate person.
  • Do not retaliate: it’s okay to stand up for yourself and tell someone you don’t like what they are doing, but don’t seek revenge or act in the same manner – no one wins this way and it can end up causing trouble for you in the long run.
  • Keep evidence of harassment whenever possible.
  • Ensure your workplace follows through with it’s procedures and protocols regarding workplace harassment.

How can Gowan Consulting Help?

Gowan Consulting has multiple resources to ensure the safety and wellness of your employees and work environment. We offer customized training to resolve conflicts in the workplace regarding harassment and bullying, as well as a large variety of other topics.

Works cited:

Harassment widespread in Workplaces, Finds Statistics Canada,

Harassment in Canadian Workplaces,

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