As the widespread issue of harassment in the workplace remains a hot topic in the news, companies are turning to harassment prevention training to empower and educate employees. Unfortunately, according to the EEOC, most training sessions in the last 30 years have not been effective because they focus too much on legal liability and not prevention. But now, in the #MeToo era, companies are focusing on prevention and creating a positive, healthy work environment.
States like California, Delaware, and New York have made it mandatory for workplaces to provide training while other states strongly encourage workplaces offer training. With such a large need for training, physical classes have become more difficult to facilitate and many companies are turning to computer-based training (CBT) to meet the requirements. This type of training, especially when it’s a priority for all employees, provides a great deal of benefits to the organization and then employees themselves.
Creates a Safer Work Environment
Harassment can be a major cause of stress in the workplace and can cause a dip in productivity and employee happiness. All employees, not just victims, can experience feelings of discomfort and unease when there is an issue.
Harassment prevention training clearly outlines what is and isn’t appropriate behavior and leaves no misconceptions or potential gray areas. This can go a long way to eliminating feelings of discomfort and unease. Training where everyone is equal, engaged, and committed to a common goal can help people feel more comfortable at work.
Employees and leaders who value their organization should always strive to make their workplace better whether it be through improved safety, productivity or culture. Effective training can provide all three.
Strengthens Workplace Culture
According to the EEOC, a company’s culture has the greatest impact on whether organizations take steps to prevent harassment or simply allow harassment to continue. Effective harassment prevention training can strengthen the workplace as it reinforces company values, goals and policies. Training that motivates people to act ethically and respectfully can enable a harmonious, safe, and productive environment.
Instead of making harassment prevention training just a routine part of onboarding with an occasional refresher, companies that regularly offer CBT training for employees of all levels achieve success in reinforcing the goals of the company while also demonstrating the importance of the subject matter. Culture change is tough, but when training is a priority for all employees from top leadership to the entry-level positions, it is possible.
With the support of leadership, employees who regularly participate in harassment prevention training are empowered to report problems or potential problems to protect themselves and other employees. It’s important for people to know and understand what exactly constitutes harassment so they can identify it and ensure they aren’t guilty of it themselves. Some might not understand what comments or actions are inappropriate, but training can eliminate this behavior while also empowering other employees to stand up and say something.
This is why training should clearly educate employees on the reporting system in place which can help them feel more comfortable at work and give them the confidence to report problems if they occur. Effective training should also focus on civility and respect in the workplace rather than unwelcome behavior. Research shows that training bystanders on how to recognize and intervene is one of the most effective ways of reducing harassment. This also creates a sense of community in the workplace as employees are leveraged as the deterrent.
A Healthier, Happier Workplace
Effectively training everyone in a company to treat others with respect can set a precedent for a healthier, happier workplace. When the benefits of training are stressed to employees, it’s easy to make it a priority. Employees will want to participate in training, not just because it is required. Remember that a good training system may not eliminate all instances of harassment, but it is important to be vigilant—especially if you notice that harassment has become common in the workplace. An anti-harassment program doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should strive to be the best possible at all times.
The original version of this article was first published on Inspired eLearning.