Optimising your Recruitment Process for the Respect at Work Act

Building a truly respectful work culture is no small task, and it involves a range of essential factors. One key aspect is making sure we have a team of employees who embody respect and inclusivity from the very beginning. It’s heartening to see progress in this direction, with the introduction of the Respect at Work act in 2022. This crucial legislation demanded that employers take proactive measures to safeguard their employees from sexual harassment, ensuring a safe and respectful workplace for all.

In this article, we will be looking at the preventative measures you can take in your recruitment process to hire respectful employees and look at some of the wider aspects of respect.

Identifying disrespectful behaviors can be quite challenging, especially when relying solely on traditional recruitment practices. However, the recent introduction of the Respect at Work Act has reinforced the importance of prioritising employees’ safety and well-being, particularly when it comes to preventing sexual harassment. As our workplaces continue to evolve, employers are realising the need for fresh and creative approaches to cultivate a safe and harmonious work environment that fosters respect and inclusivity for everyone.

 

In this article, we share some of the tactics you can use to identify attributes that conflict with those of a respectful employee. We will look at the Respect at Work act and share:

  • What is the Respect at Work Act?
  • The impact of a sexual harassment non-respectful culture
  • How to know who you’re hiring
    • The behaviours and assessments our experts recommend assessing to hire respectful employees.
  • Optimised vs non-optimised recruitment process
  • The role of D&I in Creating a Respectful Workforce

WHAT IS THE RESPECT AT WORK ACT?

The Respect at Work Act 2022 is a federal law designed to foster a safe and respectful workplace environment. It takes a stand against any form of sexual harassment, recognising that every individual deserves to feel comfortable and respected in their workplace. According to the Act, sexual harassment encompasses any unwanted or unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature that a reasonable person would find offensive, humiliating, or intimidating. This definition highlights the importance of creating an inclusive and understanding workplace where everyone feels valued and protected. Sexual harassment can manifest in various ways, from physical contact to verbal abuse and even non-verbal actions like gestures or prolonged staring.

The Act places legal obligations on employers to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment from occurring in the workplace. This includes providing education and training for staff, creating policies and procedures for reporting and responding to sexual harassment, and taking prompt action to investigate and address any incidents that occur.

It’s a “prevention is better than cure” approach, with workplaces under a positive obligation to reduce the risk of sexual harassment, discrimination, and victimisation.

As an employer, you must:

  • Ensure your business meets the new legal standards.
  • Adopt procedures to assess how your preventative measures are performing.
  • Assess your workplace to prevent and eliminate the risk of sexual harassment, discrimination and victimisation.

IMPACT OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT

The Respect at Work Report published in 2020 refers to a survey conducted in 2018 which made some shocking findings:

  • 39% of women had experienced sexual harassment at work in the previous five years.
  • 26% of men had experienced sexual harassment at work in the same period.
  • 56% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experienced sexual harassment at work in this period, compared with an average of 32% for non-indigenous people.

Effects on Mental Health: Victims of harassment often endure a range of mental health challenges such as stress, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). More than one-third of those subjected to harassment reported experiencing stress and detrimental effects on their mental well-being. Furthermore, their self-esteem, self-confidence, and ability to trust others can also be significantly undermined, leading some individuals to withdraw from their professional responsibilities.

Implications for Physical Well-being: The psychological distress, stress, depression, anxiety, and PTSD resulting from sexual harassment have been identified as risk factors for various chronic ailments, including high blood pressure, obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and certain types of cancer.

Overall, Health and Welfare: Nearly one-fifth of individuals who reported experiencing workplace sexual harassment in the past five years have reported negative impacts on their overall health and well-being following the most recent incident.

Impact on Culture: Toxic work environments result in decreased productivity among employees. When individuals encounter incidents of sexual harassment or even endure a persistent pattern of harassment, their work performance inevitably suffers. Numerous studies strongly link sexual harassment to job dissatisfaction and disengagement, highlighting its detrimental effects. Moreover, sexual harassment also leads to additional repercussions in the workplace, such as increased instances of tardiness, absenteeism, neglect of projects, and decreased focus among employees.

Commercial Impact: In 2018, workplace sexual harassment cost $2.6 billion in lost productivity and $0.9 billion in other financial costs. Each case of harassment represents around 4 working days of lost output. Employers bore 70% of the financial costs, government 23% and individuals 7%.

HOW TO KNOW WHO YOU'RE HIRING

As workplaces continue to evolve, employers are increasingly seeking new and innovative ways to ensure a safe and harmonious work environment for all. To achieve this, they’re embracing fresh and creative strategies to foster a harmonious environment for all. One powerful approach gaining traction is the use of behavioural assessments, emotional intelligence assessments, and integrity assessments during the hiring process. These assessments offer valuable insights that go beyond traditional qualifications, helping employers make well-informed decisions about potential candidates. By integrating these assessments into their recruitment practices, employers can significantly reduce the risk of bringing on board individuals who might be prone to engaging in workplace misconduct. It’s all about building a team that aligns not just in skills but also in values, ensuring a positive and productive work culture where everyone can thrive.

The Respect at Work act demands that organisations provide training and put processes in place to prevent harassment and promote respect. But it’s crucial that you hire the right people that do not cause incidents in the first place.

Our Experts have reviewed the assessments and traits one should posses to indicate a respectful employee.

The recommended assessments are:

  • Employee Reliability Inventory assessment
  • Behavioural assessments
  • Emotional Intelligence assessments
psychometrics assessments to identify sexual harassment indicators

Behavioural Assessments

Behavioural assessments provide employers with insights into the traits and characteristics of potential employees, including any red flags or potential risk factors that may pose a threat to the safety and well-being of the workplace. Through a series of targeted questions related to ethical behaviour, teamwork, and conflict resolution, employers can gain a better understanding of a candidate’s personality and behavioural tendencies. This information can then be used to determine whether an individual is a suitable fit for the role and the organisation as a whole.

Testgrid can provide a range of behavioural assessments which can assess behaviours aligned to respect. For example, our relevant Testgrid competencies such as the following are indicative of individuals more likely to show respectful behaviours at work (when they are scored in the higher range):

  • Shows Interpersonal Awareness
  • Fosters Team Spirit
  • Understands Own Emotions
  • Understands Others’ Emotions
  • Displays Integrity
  • Embraces Diversity
  • Shows Tolerance

 

Emotional Intelligence Assessments

Emotional intelligence assessments can also be used to evaluate a candidate’s ability to regulate their emotions and interact with others in a positive and respectful manner. This can be particularly useful in identifying individuals who may be more prone to engaging in inappropriate behaviour towards others. Assessments such as the Genos Emotional intelligence assessment, can be used to assess an individual’s overall level of emotional intelligence.

By leveraging these assessments, employers can ensure that they are hiring individuals who possess the necessary emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills to contribute to a healthy and respectful workplace culture.

Integrity Assessments

Integrity assessments are tools used to evaluate an individual’s integrity and ethical behaviour in various contexts, such as employment settings, academic institutions, or law enforcement agencies. These assessments aim to measure an individual’s propensity to engage in dishonest or unethical behaviour, as well as their overall trustworthiness, dependability, and moral values. Although an integrity assessment may not directly measure specific respectful behaviours, it can indirectly predict respectful conduct based on the individual’s demonstrated integrity and ethical mindset.

Individuals who exhibit a strong sense of integrity are more likely to demonstrate respectful behaviours towards others. This includes listening attentively, valuing diverse perspectives, showing empathy, maintaining confidentiality, and refraining from engaging in discriminatory or offensive actions. These behaviours stem from a foundation of ethical principles and a genuine concern for treating others with respect.

Testgrid can provide the ERI (Employee Reliability Inventory) which is a short (15-minute) assessment, that can be used to assess integrity-related behaviours in individuals and could be used as another piece of information about an individual’s likelihood to exhibit respectful behaviours.

Completion of one of our personality / behavioural style assessments will allow for mapping to the above important indicators of respect. We can also further customise this and set scoring benchmarks, depending on the degree of importance of each of the above.

When it comes to respect, especially in the context of sexual harassment, it’s essential to look at the bigger picture. So, what does that mean? Well, ensuring a safe and respectful workplace involves more than just fine-tuning your recruitment process to filter out potential risks. It’s a journey that requires multiple steps, and one of the key elements is building a diverse workforce. Embracing diversity brings fresh perspectives and a variety of experiences to the table, creating a melting pot of ideas and perspectives that fosters respect and understanding among colleagues. It’s like laying the foundation for a workplace where everyone feels valued and appreciated, and where respect becomes an integral part of the company’s DNA.

Below we take a look at a non-optimised recruitment process that relies on resume screening and making assumptions about the candidate based in the information gathered from their resume and during the interview process.

OPTIMISED RECRUITMENT PROCESS

The mantra of the Respect at Work act requires employers to put preventative measures in place to ensure workers are safe. Relying on a typical recruitment process with no assessment or screening beyond the information provided to you by the candidate and gut feeling is not going to provide any indication of whether the candidate is going to be respectful or not.

This leaves organisations open to risks of inappropriate behaviour further down the track, as no insight is provided as to whther the candidate is right for the role or respectful.

hiring respectful employees

The optimised process allows you to assess against the outlined indicators of respect and build a workforce less likely to take part in disrespectful behaviors. As a result of this, you will be more likely to hire employees that can manage their own and understand others emotions.

THE ROLE OF DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION IN A RESPECTFUL WORKFORCE

respect at work graphic

Research indicates that fostering a workplace culture that embraces diversity and inclusion plays a crucial role in reducing the occurrence of sexual harassment. According to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s report titled “Respect@Work,” organisations with higher levels of diversity and inclusion experience lower rates of sexual harassment. The report emphasises the significance of promoting gender equality, valuing diversity, and cultivating a positive work environment to prevent harassment.

Remove Bias from your Recruitment Process

Testing and Assessments

Utilising objective, unbiased, fair, and standardised psychometric tests and skills assessments across all candidates is crucial to establishing a robust framework that minimises recruiter bias in the recruitment process. This approach enhances the likelihood of selecting the most suitable candidate for the job, based on qualifications rather than the recruiter’s personal cultural or gender-related preferences. By implementing well-designed tests and assessments, any unconscious or conscious bias can be effectively managed, resulting in fair and objective outcomes.

Diversity Norms

To accurately evaluate candidates, it is essential to benchmark their performance against norm groups that closely represent their characteristics. By comparing the performance of graduate candidates against specific norm groups, such as gender-specific norms, indigenous norms, or ESL (English as a Second Language) norms, you can assess how they fare in comparison to relevant population segments.

Video Technology

Embracing advanced technologies like video interviewing can significantly enhance your ability to hire a diverse workforce. By incorporating these cutting-edge tools, you can provide a greater number of candidates with the opportunity to participate in the recruitment process, thereby expanding the pool of potential candidates and increasing diversity. Video interviewing platforms like Vieple enable convenient and affordable access to a wider range of first-round candidates, including those from regional areas, different states, and international locations, as well as individuals juggling busy family and work schedules.

Promoting an Inclusive Culture

  • Cultivate an inclusive work environment that appreciates and honours individual differences.
  • Create opportunities for employees to share their experiences, ideas, and perspectives.
  • Encourage open communication and establish a culture built on respect and equality.

Advocating for Gender Equality

  • Promote gender equality by actively addressing and challenging gender stereotypes.
  • Foster opportunities for women to progress in leadership positions and support their career growth.
  • Ensure that policies and practices are designed to eliminate gender-based discrimination or harassment.

Addressing Unconscious Bias

Let’s face it, we all have biases – it’s a part of being human. But the real strength lies in acknowledging and confronting those unconscious biases head-on. By taking the time to offer training and education on diversity, inclusion, and unconscious bias to every single employee, we can create a workplace that thrives on empathy and understanding. It’s about fostering a culture where differences are not just accepted, but celebrated. When we value each team member’s unique background and perspective, we build a solid foundation for a workplace that truly treasures respect.

IN SUMMARY

Although there is no foolproof method to ascertain an individual’s likelihood of engaging in disrespectful or unethical behaviour, integrating assessments like those mentioned above into the hiring process allows employers to make better-informed decisions and mitigate the risk of hiring individuals prone to inappropriate conduct. It is crucial to acknowledge that these assessments should not be the sole determining factor in hiring decisions but should be used alongside other screening methods, such as reference checks and behavioural interviews.

The creation of a safe and respectful workplace environment is a multifaceted issue that requires a range of strategies and approaches. One key component is the hiring of individuals who possess strong ethical values, emotional intelligence and integrity. By prioritising these qualities during the recruitment process, employers can ensure that they are selecting candidates who are less likely to engage in inappropriate behaviour towards their colleagues or other members of the workplace community.

Ultimately, the creation of a safe and respectful workplace environment requires the collective effort of employers, employees, and the wider community. By working together to promote inclusivity, provide education and support, and foster a culture of respect and empathy, we can help to mitigate the challenges facing the Respect at Work Act in Australia and create workplaces that are safe and supportive for all.

We are now working with our clients to assess how best to incorporate behavioural, emotional intelligence and integrity assessments into your hiring process. If you are interested in speaking to us about how to implement these assessments as part of your recruitment process, get in contact with us here

GET IN TOUCH

If you want to talk to one of our experts about utilising these assessments in your recruitment process, get in touch with our team here, or call 03 9040 1700 to learn more.

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