HR knows companies can lose thousands or even millions of dollars due to bias and harassment suits. But new research has come out about the soft costs of those legal issues, and the results are just as staggering.
According to the 2007 Corporate Leavers Survey, conducted by the Level Playing Field Institute, 2 million employees leave jobs every year solely because they think their workplaces are unfair. Overall, that turnover costs companies $64 billion a year, the Institute estimates.
What to look out for
Here are some of the specific kinds of occurrences the study says contribute to that turnover rate:
- Jokes about ethnic stereotypes (jokes about terrorism have an especially big impact, the study says)
- Employees feeling they were passed over for a promotion because of race or gender, and
- Being asked unwelcome questions about skin, hair or ethnic attire.
Of course, most of those problems aren’t caused by intentional bias. In many cases, it’s just the result of a perception of unfairness, often because supervisors or co-workers accidentally give off the wrong impression. As the cost estimate shows, management training is important for more than just keeping the company out of court.
In addition to training, offering fair and effective complaint procedures can help keep people from walking out the door when they think they’re being treated unfairly.