A Comprehensive Guide to Anti-Harassment Training Programs

A Comprehensive Guide to Anti-Harassment Training Programs

There is a dire need to establish and develop a cohesive anti-harassment program in the workplace, as harassment is both rampant and costly. Toxic work environments need to cease.

In the United States, most states require anti-harassment training based on the organization’s size. But despite the widespread adoption of programs over decades, workplace harassment has not gone away.

Workplace situations fluctuate from moment to moment, from employee to employee. Maybe an employee needs to understand what is considered harassment, like yelling at a subordinate or making an inappropriate joke. Or a manager needs to learn how to spot harassment and take appropriate action. Or an employee needs to learn how to be more sensitive to their behaviors and those of others. All these employees can use training more than just on an annual basis simply to satisfy legal requirements.

HSI’s Course Library includes courses covering workplace situations like understanding harassment, bystander training, and working well with everyone. Other topics include harassment bystander scenarios, sexual harassment prevention, state-specific compliance laws, and many more. It’s imperative that all employees understand all forms of harassment and other inappropriate behavior.

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Harassment affects many professionals in the workplace. A few once-a-year training courses to fulfill legal requirements are not sufficient. Nor is anti-harassment training just for new employees. An effective workplace anti-harassment training program occurs when awareness and education take root within an entire organization. When employees consistently learn more about appropriate workplace behavior and equity, a culture of trust where employees feel safe and respected develops. This type of culture happens from consistent anti-harassment training. Soft skills training helps as well. And this is where an understanding of harassment comes into play!

In this guide, we’ll explain everything there is to know about compliance training including:

  • What constitutes workplace harassment
  • What is compliance anti-harassment training
  • What are the benefits of anti-harassment training
  • What are several anti-harassment training program best practices
  • How businesses can prevent workplace harassment

Let’s get started!

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What Constitutes Workplace Harassment?

Workplace harassment includes any unwelcome behavior, conduct, or communication that creates an intimidating, offensive, or hostile work environment. Abusive conduct can take many forms, such as verbal or physical aggression, subtle comments, nonverbal gestures, or offensive images or messages.

Harassment can be based on:

  • Age (40 or older)
  • Disability
  • Genetic information (including family medical history)
  • National origin
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity)
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What is Compliance Anti-Harassment Training?

Compliance anti-harassment training is one of the most critical types of training companies can offer. The courses educate employees on state and federal laws, regulations, and company policies. A proper training program creates a workplace free from inappropriate behaviors and reduces the risk of legal issues. When quality training is in place, the organization’s best practices support a diverse workforce and leverage unique perspectives, paving the way to a successful company.

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Benefits of Compliance Anti-Harassment Training

Using compliance training as an opportunity to bring clarity to what constitutes harassment, and the consequences of this behavior, can be beneficial to the organization and all employees.

Consistent online workplace anti-harassment training has an array of benefits:

  • Ensures up-to-date information
  • Increases engagement
  • Boosts knowledge retention
  • Fosters a workplace culture of trust
  • Establishes and reinforces a workplace of continuous learning
  • Promises better tracking and assessments of training
  • Improves the company’s reputation and brand

A compliance training program seeks to eliminate damaging incidents of harassment and ensures that employees are fully engaged and productive, treating others with respect. And an inclusive workplace culture grounded in respect flourishes.

Compliance training defines inappropriate behavior such as:

  • Assertive action vs. aggressive action
  • Persistence vs. pestering
  • Constructive criticism vs. condemnation
  • Creativity vs. chaos
  • Leadership vs. bullying
  • Compliment vs. suggestive language

The benefits of an effective compliance training program are numerous and impact employees at all levels of the organization. Anti-harassment training can influence everything from employees being more empathetic toward each other to a more harmonious workplace. It’s not an overstatement to suggest that an effective anti-harassment training program can influence almost every aspect of a business operation positively.

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Anti-Harassment Training Best Practices

Sure, building a harmonious workplace where everyone feels psychologically safe is difficult, but it is achievable. The problem is that companies don’t always have the tools to facilitate this. Basic training only to meet the specific requirements required by law is not enough.

A few common problems business leaders encounter when implementing an anti-harassment training program include:

  • Failure to assess anti-harassment needs; lacks purpose and ineffective
  • Lack of relevant and current educational content
  • Avoidance of sexual harassment prevention training due to the “cringe factor”
  • Limited access to capable instructors
  • Insufficient time to implement training
  • No training reinforcement
  • Top-heavy educational investment

Since an anti-harassment training program relates to career growth and business progress, it’s essential to a company’s success. To improve employee career growth, you must ramp up anti-harassment training.

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How Can You Prevent Workplace Harassment?

Do you have an existing anti-harassment training program you want to improve? Or an anti-harassment policy that needs to be updated? Or perhaps you’re ready to bring a new focus on anti-harassment training at your company. These steps can work to boost your team:

Invest in New Compelling Learning Content

What does outdated content say to your learners? “We don’t care, so why should you. Our training is only for compliance purposes. Let’s check the box and get on with our work.”

Repetition and boredom are easy to combat by providing new content and innovative interactions. Don’t restrict your program to using only traditional training materials. Also, consider using things like:

  • Gamification: Use a points system or leaderboard that urges employees to discover more about anti-harassment-related topics on their own, at their own pace.
  • Scenario-Based Learning: Present real-life scenarios and case studies related to compliance issues. Participants can discuss these scenarios, identify problems, and propose solutions.
  • Collaborative Learning: Use collaborative tools or platforms that allow participants to discuss topics and share what they are learning.

Be sure to also look for:

  • Relevant, current, and compelling content
  • Thoughtful visuals and creative graphics
  • Conversational instructors who are relatable to the learners
  • Consistent quality in courses, learner materials, and exams

Instill Purpose, Foster DEI, and Make Anti-Harassment Part of the Culture

Instilling purpose in a compliance training program will require abandoning the “checkbox mentality” and weaving your anti-harassment program into the very fiber of your workplace culture. Most companies provide anti-harassment training only during the onboarding process. And then annual or semi-annual training after that as a refresher. A better process would be to conduct climate surveys throughout the year and tailor several learning topics to match current employee concerns.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) advises that harassment is more likely to happen in workplaces with a lack of diversity. Research suggests that a lack of diversity and inclusion in the workplace can promote discriminatory behavior. This knowledge further solidifies how harassment and DEI training work together to create a diverse workforce.

Infusing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) concepts into your anti-harassment training program is critical for building a workplace culture that is employee-centric, inclusive of people of all backgrounds and lived experiences, and doesn’t tolerate harassment. DEI goes beyond legal requirements and encourages organizations to embrace differences, consider unique perspectives, and create an environment where everyone feels safe, supported, and seen.

By fostering inclusivity, organizations tap into a diverse pool of talent and ideas. Inclusivity leads to increased creativity and innovation. DEI training also mitigates bias, discrimination, and harassment, which reduces risk and ensures that all employees have equal opportunities for growth and advancement. Integrated effectively, compliance and DEI training can create a powerful synergy that drives workplace culture change. Ethical behavior becomes ingrained in the organization’s DNA, and employees are better equipped to navigate complex workplace situations. As employees embrace these principles and become champions of change, the organization becomes more adaptable, resilient, and innovative.

Create a Learning Culture

A learning culture is a set of organizational values, processes, and best practices centered around education and growth. A positive learning culture encourages employees to learn new skills.

While most leaders say they value learning, sometimes they promote a training culture, not a learning culture.

What’s the difference? In a training culture, employees receive assigned mandatory compliance courses, and performance problems are addressed through mandatory training. Management dictates what you can take and when you can take it. In a learning culture, employees are more involved in self-driven learning that will positively impact business outcomes and personal productivity. Leaders encourage employees to seek out learning opportunities any time they want to.

Inundating team members with tons of content isn’t (on its own) going to lead to a better learning culture. Instead, managers can help foster a better learning environment by:

  • Getting support from the C-Suite
  • Promoting the benefits of self-directed learning
  • Prioritizing comprehensive training programs as part of the organization’s long-term plans

The benefits of building a learning culture are numerous. Several benefits include boosting employee morale, reducing employee turnover, attracting better talent, fostering innovation, and creating more effective and productive teams.

Reinforce the Training

Quiz time! What is allyship? What is an example of a bystander scenario? What’s the difference between bullying and harassment?

An effective anti-harassment training program reinforces the lessons introduced during online video courses and lectures. Follow-up emails, quizzes, and recap videos all act to refresh employees and keep vital information top of mind well after training sessions have concluded.

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Further Anti-Harassment Training Considerations

Combating harassment is more than just ensuring compliance or diminishing liability. It’s about creating a workplace culture where harassment does not take root in the first place. Setting up an effective anti-harassment training program is complex, especially when built from scratch. Thankfully, the process can be made much easier by partnering with an eLearning company that has an anti-harassment training program ready to roll out along with soft skills training. It pays to bring in a single-solution provider that can oversee the various aspects of the program. Instead of a medley of content from various sources, using different platforms, and handing out miscellaneous materials, companies can benefit from a program with a cohesive aim and feel.

No matter which approaches you plan to take, here are a few further considerations to be aware of before making critical decisions regarding training tactics.

Adult Learning Theory

When preparing for ongoing anti-harassment training, the first critical question is, “What’s the best way to introduce employees to anti-harassment educational material?”

Put simply, adults do not learn the same way that children do, but a lot of educational content is written or designed as if they did. Adult learning theory stipulates that because adults learn differently from children, the learning process must be tailored to their specifications. Adult learners have diverse backgrounds and experiences, and L&D leaders need to account for factors like these when implementing anti-harassment training.

Changing Behavior

Creating a culture of respect and trust is about changing behavior. Unconscious bias does exist. Preventing a toxic work environment is critical. Getting team members to communicate with each other in a more empathetic and productive way isn’t a simple matter of incentivizing that communication or punishing failure to do so.

Instead, managers can leverage blended learning to promote changes in behavior over time. Blended learning combines digital and online learning with face-to-face, instructor-led classes. Online learning allows learners to have some control over their learning path and to move ahead at their own pace. Online videos can also be used as reinforcement after the training session to support the transfer of knowledge from short-term memory to long-term memory and aid in changing behavior.

Prevent Harassment in the Workplace

Only having anti-harassment training for legal compliance is not enough, and successful programs must aim to combat undesirable behavior and produce behavior change rather than just avoid legal liability.

What this difference comes down to is the actual employee experience. It’s no secret that employees commonly view anti-harassment training negatively. It’s time to understand why that is and how it can change.

Human resources can create workplaces that are safer and more inclusive. To genuinely cultivate a safer organizational culture, instead of just providing compliance training as a formality, you’ll need the right tools to ensure the training program remains effective and ingrained over time.

Creating a better anti-harassment program requires a more holistic approach. Training must go beyond mere compliance and aim to change the workplace culture. Because of the multiple aspects involved, having a single-solution provider makes it easier for organizations to build, measure, and sustain such a program. Visit our Anti-Harassment Training website page, where you can sample a training video and learn about state-specific anti-harassment training, sexual harassment prevention training, and DEI. You can even request a demo of our complete solution.

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In Conclusion

Ready to create a harassment-free workplace? HSI offers an in-depth, all-encompassing online compliance and anti-harassment employee training program for all audiences. The comprehensive training bundle pairs learnings on key workplace regulations, such as FMLA, FLSA, and ADA, with anti-harassment prevention training. Whether for an HR professional ensuring policies are within state laws, a business leader concerned about potential litigation, or an employee looking into their rights, this bundle has what everyone needs.

Our HSI LMS is built to be mobile-first and learner-first. Employees can access it at any time and at their own pace. Ensure not only up-to-date harassment knowledge but also employee engagement, job satisfaction, and retention. You can also build a respectful workplace culture of trust and continuous learning, access and track training, and protect your company’s brand and reputation. A comprehensive anti-harassment training program can directly impact a company’s bottom line.

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