No matter what products you sell or what industry you’re in, harassment prevention must be a top priority in keeping both your company and your employees safe. What works and what you need to include in that training is changing rapidly. Here is what you need to know regarding harassment prevention training now.
The movement known as #metoo began in October of 2017, and the repercussions are still being felt. During the last several years, both individuals and companies have become more aware of harassment and reporting has increased dramatically both in and out of the workplace. People are more aware of the many specific forms of harassment. Protected classes include including sex, gender, disability, race, religion and age.
According to SHRM, emphasis on workplace harassment training should focus on prevention. As a manager or human resources professional, it’s your responsibility to take the necessary steps to provide the most effective harassment prevention training program possible. It’s crucial to train employees effectively to prevent any type of harassment from happening. If harassment does occur, it’s necessary that employees at all levels understand what to do and take the correct course of action.
The New Jersey Business and Industry Association reports that a Gallup poll shows both men and women take sexual harassment much more seriously than they did 20 years ago. The majority of individuals now see it as a major problem. Your employees are more sensitive to what is and isn’t considered appropriate behavior.
Along with increased sensitivity and changed perspectives, however, there has also been more confusion. Many employees are often uncertain regarding what exactly constitutes harassment, what type of language or behavior is acceptable in the workplace and exactly how to handle harassment accusations. This makes an effective training program more important than ever.
It’s necessary to understand what the different requirements are in each state and how employers with employees in multiple locations can comply. Right now there are only five states that mandate or have requirements regarding sexual harassment training. California, Connecticut, New York, Delaware, Illinois and Maine have passed a variety of legislation for training employees. If your company maintains facilities in both California and Illinois, for example, all employees should be trained according to the most stringent standards.
This means you’ll stay compliant while keeping all employees on the same page. Employers also need to go beyond basic legal compliance. It’s necessary to cultivate a culture of respect in the workplace. Training shouldn’t just focus on a checklist of unacceptable behaviors. It should focus on building civility and an environment where employees feel comfortable speaking out.
It’s imperative that training addresses the recent shifts in culture. It’s not only important to understand culture in our society, but to understand and change the culture in the workplace. This means that management must take a proactive approach by educating current employees and immediately training all new hires. Workforce states that training must involve much more than simply watching a video and checking a to-do box. You must create a culture at the highest levels of management and effective training provided on a fairly regular basis.
Finally, whatever training method you use, make sure there is an evaluation process in place. You need to understand what’s working and what’s not so modifications can be made for future training. Harassment prevention training is critically important to not only prevent costly lawsuits and maintain a company’s reputation, but for building a respectful and positive work environment.
With strong belief that every company can become an employer of choice, the team at Projections has been helping companies build better leaders and improve employee relations for over 4 decades. The Respectful Workplace, is a powerful and effective eLearning program designed to not only prevent harassment but help companies create a respectful and inclusive workplace.
Walter is Projections’ CEO and the founder of UnionProof & A Better Leader. As the creator of Union Proof Certification, Walter provides expert advice, highly effective employee communication resources and ongoing learning opportunities for Human Resources and Labor Relations professionals.