Harassment training is about creating a culture, not checking a box
July 12, 2018
Bloomberg reports that demand for anti-harassment training videos has surged in the #MeToo era.
Anti-harassment training is all about creating an anti-harassment culture in your workplace—about employees understanding what harassment is, how to complain about it, and that your company does not ever accept it.
If you plop your employees in front of a video, it sends the message that you do not prioritize anti-harassment training, which sends the absolute wrong message to your employees. How can you expect them to take this issue seriously when your training creates the impression that you don’t take it seriously?
So, how should you use your anti-harassment training to help create a #MeToo appropriate anti-harassment culture?
The EEOC’s Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace offers the following five suggestions for effective employee and supervisor anti-harassment training
- Training should be supported at the highest levels. “Employees must believe that the leadership is serious about preventing harassment in the workplace.… The strongest expression of support is for a senior leader to open the training session and attend the entire training session.… Similarly, if all employees at every level of the organization are trained, that both increases the effectiveness of the training and communicates the employer’s commitment of time and resources to the training effort.”
- Training should be conducted and reinforced on a regular basis for all employees. “Employees understand that an organization’s devotion of time and resources to any effort reflects the organization’s commitment to that effort. Training is no different. If anti-harassment trainings are held once a year (or once every other year), employees will not believe that preventing harassment is a high priority for the employer. Conversely, if anti-harassment trainings are regularly scheduled events in which key information is reinforced, that will send the message that the goal of the training is important.”
- Training should be conducted by qualified, live, and interactive trainers. “Live trainers who are dynamic, engaging, and have full command of the subject matter are the most likely to deliver effective training.”
- Training should be routinely evaluated. “Employers should obviously not keep doing something that does not work. Trainers should not only do the training, but should evaluate the results of the training, as well.… The evaluation should occur on a regular basis so that the training can be modified, if need be. Similarly, training evaluation should incorporate feedback from all levels of an organization, most notably, the rank-and-file employees who are being trained.”
- Employers should consider including workplace civility training and bystander intervention training as part of a holistic harassment prevention program. “Employers have offered workplace civility training as a means of reducing bullying or conflict in the workplace. Thus, such training does not focus on eliminating unwelcome behavior based on characteristics protected under employment non-discrimination laws, but rather on promoting respect and civility in the workplace generally.… Bystander intervention training … could help employees identify unwelcome and offensive behavior that is based on a co-workers’ protected characteristic…; could create a sense of responsibility on the part of employees to ‘do something’ and not simply stand by; could give employees the skills and confidence to intervene in some manner to stop harassment; and finally, could demonstrate the employer’s commitment to empowering employees to act in this manner.”
Employers, let’s not just “check the box” with harassment training. Let’s make it real and meaningful for your employees. If you don’t appear to take it seriously, how can they?