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3 Reasons You Need to Include Stalking in Your Harassment Policy

3 Reasons You Need to Include Stalking in Your Harassment Policy

Is stalking harassment? Yes. Protect employees and streamline the investigation process by adding stalking to your harassment policy.

When you think of workplace harassment, incidents like sexual harassment and bullying immediately come to mind. However, there is another type of harassment that may occur in the workplace.

Stalking, defined by the National Institute of Justice as “a course of conduct directed at a specific person that involves repeated (two or more occasions) visual or physical proximity, nonconsensual communication, or verbal, written, or implied threats, or a combination thereof, that would cause a reasonable person fear” is disruptive to your employee’s lives and that can include their time at work.

Investigating stalking in the workplace may be an unfortunate part an HR professional's job. Including stalking in your harassment policy can reduce your employees’ risk of becoming a victim of this behavior while also preparing everyone for when workplace stalking does occur.

A workplace stalking investigation isn't to be taken lightly. Learn how to carry out effective investigations in your workplace with this free eBook.

Stalking Can Affect Both Employees and Clients

Workplace stalking comes in a variety of forms.

First, an employee may be stalked by someone they know outside of work whose stalking behaviors creep into their work life. This can include showing up to the victim’s workplace, sending unwanted parcels to work, or calling them at the office.

Stalking can also happen between an employee and a client. In this case, changing the employee’s work email and phone extension, as well as helping them avoid the client if possible, is crucial.

Finally, an employee may become the victim of stalking from a coworker. If this occurs, moving their work station and not forcing the victim to attend mediation if they feel unsafe are important steps in resolving the issue. Be sure to always maintain the dignity of both employees when investigating stalking in the workplace.

Navigating a coworker stalking allegation can be tricky. Download this free cheat sheet to find out five ways to keep bias out of your investigations.

Stalking Can Cause Occupational Damage

When an employee is in distress, they can’t perform their tasks to their full potential.

Stalking can negatively affect your business when the victim needs to take time off work. They may be afraid to leave their home, require sick leave for psychological symptoms associated with the stalking incident, need to tend to legal matters surrounding the incident, or be avoiding their stalker if it is a coworker.

Stalking victims may also perform poorly when they do come to work. Their distress surrounding the stalking incident lowers their ability to concentrate and catch up after missed days. They may also lose time at work due to phone calls or other intrusions by their stalker.

RELATED: Stalking in the Workplace: The Complete Guide to Prevention and Investigation

Cyberstalking Adds A New Level of Threat

While the idea of a stalker showing up to your workplace, sending strange packages, or following your employee on the way to his or her car is scary enough, a new type of stalking behavior has been on the rise.

Cyberstalking victims may experience:

  • Unwanted messages or images on the internet
  • Having their information stolen using cameras, GPS technology, or computer spyware
  • The stalker stealing their identity and posting unflattering information or posing as the victim online

Because we use technology both at home and in the workplace, it is easy for this type of stalking to spill over from an employee’s personal life to their work. Having their work accounts hacked and receiving threatening emails while at the office are just some of the ways cyberstalking may manifest in the workplace.

Simply including a section on stalking in your workplace's harassment policy can protect your employees from this intense form of harassment. Knowing what stalking is, how to prevent it, and what to do when stalking occurs will make your workplace safer for everyone.