HR Acuity Benchmark Study Shows While Harassment Claims Are Up 53%, Companies Are Actively Transforming in the Post-#MeToo Era

As Companies Shift from #MeToo to #WhatNow, Data-Driven Policy & Cultural Changes Can Reduce Harassment Risk

HR Acuity, the only technology platform specifically built for employee relations management, announced the release of the Third Annual HR Acuity Employee Relations (ER) Benchmark Study, based on in-depth research from more than 150 leading enterprises representing more than 4.4 million employees. The results show that while allegations of harassment continue to rise (up 53% since 2017), organizations are increasingly adopting investigation best practices. They are also using ER data and analytics and processes to drive cultural change, reduce workplace risk and ultimately create healthier, safer workplace environments.

The data proves harassment allegations and issue volumes are on the rise:

  • Increases in sexual harassment allegations were reported by 53% of organizations and by 51% for non-sexual harassment, with 45% of organizations expecting harassment claims to increase again in the next year.
  • 31% of organizations saw an overall increase in the number of employee relations claims in the last 12 months.
  • In addition to harassment, areas most frequently reported with increased volumes were unprofessional conduct/policy violations (56% of respondents); accommodation requests (49%), workplace bullying (47%) and discrimination (43%).

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“While we’re glad to see more employees reporting issues, nearly one-third of ER professionals juggle more than 26 issues at any given time, and 49% of those who conduct investigations average seven or more open investigations at one time – those are heavy workloads. Organizations must respond to ensure they have the infrastructure, resources and processes to support increased volumes and reduce additional risk,” said Deb Muller, CEO of HR Acuity.

The findings illustrate how organizations are improving processes and practices and incorporating technology to manage employee issues and investigations more consistently and effectively:

  • The upward trend to use required investigation processes continues at a rapid pace, with 41% now on board, up 8% from last year, with another 10% indicating they will follow suit in the next year.
  • 38% of organizations using technology to support employee relations have adopted solutions specifically designed for managing employee relations

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The Study also reveals insight into employee relations practices at enterprise organizations and shows companies becoming more strategic in their approach to employee relations, as they adapt post #MeToo.

  • Over 60% of organizations are now using ER metrics to gain deeper insight into employee behavior, engagement and performance to drive policy changes and identify opportunities for early intervention.
  • 59% of organizations are now sharing ER metrics with executive leadership and integrating employee data with other functional areas to spot trouble areas sooner and create a more meaningful assessment of the organizational culture.

“The emphasis on employee relations as a strategic driver of cultural transformation is a direct result of employees demanding greater transparency, fairness and consistency in the workplace,” Muller said. “Companies that build strong strategic employee relations functions can proactively spot trends and areas of concern that need to be addressed before they become a bigger problem. This gives them an advantage not only in protecting their organization, but also in recruiting and retaining top talent.”

Introduced in 2016, the Employee Relations Benchmark Study is the only source for information from employee relations leaders at organizations with more than 1,000 employees from a wide range of industry sectors. The study has become a go-to resource for employee relations professionals to help guide decisions about resources and processes to improve the employee experience and drive better business outcomes.

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