As the widespread issue of sexual harassment remains a common topic in the news, one of the questions that often comes up is whether managers should have different training sessions than employees. Though not everyone agrees on this point, there are some strong arguments for keeping the training separate for employees and managers. Here are a few reasons many people want them separate, as well as an overview of the basics that both sessions might cover.
Why Should Harassment Training Be Separate?
One of the reasons more people are talking about this issue lately is that California just updated its sexual harassment prevention training requirements, which will go into effect in January 2020. Previously, businesses with 50 or more employees had to give supervisors at least two hours of sexual harassment prevention training every two years. But now, much smaller businesses—including those that have just five or more employees—will have to provide training to not only supervisors, but also employees. Supervisors will need two hours of training, and employees will need one hour. And the content of each session needs to be different.
According to the new legislation, managers need more training—and content that is different from what other employees get—because they have so much influence over the workplace. In fact, they have the power to help create a healthier culture in the company, and they also have the potential to create an unhealthy, unsafe work environment. Either way, employees look to them for guidance, and to determine how to react to issues they have at work.
Managers are leaders, and as such, they have additional responsibilities compared to the rest of the employees. This is why simply giving them the same training as the entire staff isn’t considered the best idea for companies that want to prevent sexual harassment at work. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will offer two harassment prevention programs, with the Leading for Respect program being specifically for management. In order to have the upmost peace of mind, organizations should seek additional anti-harassment training courses. Inspired eLearning offers a wide variety of anti-harassment and discrimination focused courses for organizations of all sizes.
What Should Management Training Focus On?
So how should the training that managers get be different from the employees’ training? First, it should focus on how to create a healthier workplace, which should include improving leadership and communication in the office. It should also touch on how to spot and correct sexual harassment.
This training also needs to go over how to respond to complaints of sexual harassment in the office. There should be a process clearly outlined so managers know exactly what steps to take when an issue is brought up. The training also needs to go over the possible consequences of ignoring the issue and allowing the harassment to continue.
In addition, sexual harassment training for managers needs to address the fact that harassment claims can be a liability for the company. This should help reiterate to managers the importance of immediately dealing with any complaints, rather than ignoring them or putting off reporting them. If they know they can get in trouble and the company can be sued, they may be more likely to take this issue seriously.
What Should Employee Harassment Prevention Training Teach?
On the flip side, training for employees should touch on how to report sexual harassment when it occurs in the office. Employees also need to know what exactly constitutes harassment, so they know how to identify it, and to make sure they’re not guilty of it themselves. In some cases, employees simply don’t realize that their comments or actions are not appropriate in the workplace, and the training can eliminate this issue by teaching them how to show professional, respectful behavior at work.
Some companies might try to cut corners by only training managers and leaving employees out. But that’s a mistake, as a big part of eliminating harassment in the workplace is ensuring that employees know how to report it. When they don’t know the steps to take, they’re less likely to bother telling management about it, leaving the issue to continue and possibly get worse.
In the end, the main reason to keep training for managers and employees separate is that the two groups need to approach the topic of harassment from different perspectives. While both have to learn how to identify harassment and not be the cause of it themselves, their roles in the reporting process are different and need to be taught accordingly.
More sources on sexual harassment prevention training:
The original version of this article was first published on Inspired eLearning.