Anti-Harassment Training for Employees Doesn't Have to Be Cringeworthy
When I tell people I work for a company that makes employee training videos, their typical reaction is a loud groan with eye-rolls and a story about a horrible video on sexual harassment they are “forced” to watch every year. It’s true, they think I am the one to blame! Stories include details about the 1980’s video quality, and awkward role-plays portrayed by amateur actors.
Other stories mention the embarrassing and uncomfortable role-plays they were required to act out with their co-workers! I quickly reassure them that sexual harassment prevention training for employees does not have to be painful or cringeworthy to be effective.
Harassment Prevention Training is Required by Law
Anti-harassment training requirements vary by state, but companies with as few as 3 employees have been required by law to conduct employee training on sexual harassment for years. Compliance training pre-dates #MeToo and #TimesUp. Over the years, many states have passed their own laws regarding state-specific training requirements. These include California, Connecticut, Maine, New York City, New York State, Illinois, and Delaware.
For years, many companies have had the “checkbox” mentality to satisfy the specific requirements of the law on harassment training, but we’ve all seen the news. The problem with that mentality is that it doesn’t stop the problem. In the past it’s been seen as a nuisance.
Because of the bad behavior of a few, the rest of us have to go through this painful, cringeworthy training. The bare minimum has not prevented the bad behavior. The bare minimum has allowed the problem to fester and grow. We have a white paper that explores the idea that compliance training is more than a checkbox.
So, what the collective “we” have been doing for 50 years is not working and it is not good enough. What do we change? Maybe awkward and outdated videos are laughable. Maybe the uncomfortable roleplays are distracting and not effective. Employees can tell how much effort an organization puts into compliance training. If the company doesn’t take it seriously, why should they?
What does effective sexual harassment training for employees look like?
1. Define Harassment
Harassment training does not only mean training on sexual harassment. All employees need to understand the official definition of harassment. Unwelcome conduct becomes harassment when it’s based on someone’s race, color, religion, sex, including pregnancy, national origin, disability, or genetic information.
2. Unique Content for Managers
Managers need to know they are responsible for creating and maintaining a safe work environment for their team. They set the tone and represent the culture of the company. It’s the manager’s job to prevent, monitor, and remediate any potential workplace harassment as soon as possible.
3. How to Write and Communicate a Policy
Some of HSI’s clients are emerging and growing to a company size with new levels of compliance requirements and need help writing a harassment policy. Our course will help your HR team to write, communicate, and train your harassment policy. It will give you a solid foundation on the issue so you are better prepared to speak to your legal team about the local laws.
4. Tips to Investigate Complaints
All employees can watch this course so they understand the nature of an investigation and that there are rules to follow. The person or team responsible for investigating sexual harassment complaints must fit specific criteria and go through a special training program.
5. Help People Truly Understand the Issue
One of the ways our HSI content stands out in a crowded field of harassment training is our ability to unpack an issue so employees can understand it and apply what they’ve learned immediately. With the topic of harassment, this deeper understanding can get at the root of the issue and help employees be more aware of the behavior that leads to harassment so they can stop it before it becomes a problem.
I should also mention the creative story in this series. Many issues around harassment reside in a grey area so the color palette is mostly grey and white. A common misperception around harassment is that it is about sex. Our lesson explains that it is more about power, so we use images of robots and puppets to illustrate this point.
Our series breaks down the following topics for employees in a straightforward manner without any awkward actors in uncomfortable scenarios.
- Understand offenders
- Understand targets
- Bystander training
- Warning signs
- Healthy culture
6. Meet the State-Specific Requirements
If you have employees in the following states, you must follow the state-specific harassment training requirements:
- New York City
- New York State
Working with a partner like HSI can take some of the burdens off of your team to ensure your organization is fully compliant. Especially, if you are a training department of one!
Additional Supporting Topics
When you have a full library of off-the-shelf training content, you have many additional courses to offer to your employees to foster a culture where everyone can feel safe and respected.
- Respect: A more respectful culture can help to prevent workplace harassment from occurring. This series explores how to be liked at work in a professional way, how to earn respect, and how to work with someone you dislike.
- Fun at work: Employees with good intentions can make inappropriate or offensive jokes. These courses explore humor in the workplace and explain what is and isn’t funny. Harassment can begin with unwelcome jokes so these courses can be very helpful.
- Unconscious Bias: The idea with this series is to make people aware of their own biases that may affect how they treat (or mistreat) co-workers.
- LGBTQ In the Workplace: If you have more than 20 employees, you likely have a member of the LGBTQ community. Offering these training topics can help everyone better understand each other and feel safe.
- Cross-Cultural Considerations: Today’s diverse workforce comes with a greater need for cultural intelligence. This series covers topics around your culture, the concept of time, and workplace basics.
- Download our white paper “Why Compliance Training is More Than a Checkbox.”
- Using our training videos is a good start, but use these tips to really affect your workplace “10 Ways You Can Foster Better Compliance in the Workplace.”
- Another helpful related blog post “Why Your Company Should Spend More Time on Compliance Training.”
- Read more about LGBTQ training topics in our blog “Benefits of LGBTQ Inclusion in Diversity Training.”
- Watch a few of our courses on diversity training topics.