In the wake of #MeToo and new state sexual harassment training requirements, there’s an urgency for organizations to update their harassment training programs and approach to preventing workplace harassment. Whether you’re training employees online, in a classroom setting or through a blended learning approach, here are six things to keep in mind when choosing a sexual harassment training program.
- Comply with state and local requirements
In 2018, California, New York State and New York City strengthened their anti-harassment laws and expanded sexual harassment training requirements, affecting organizations of every size and across all industries. Connecticut, Illinois and Rhode Island also have laws pending that would require more employers to provide sexual harassment training to more employees, and other states are expected to follow. Minimally, all sexual harassment training must cover the topics required by state, city and local laws. One of the differentiators to consider is how the training addresses the required topics, as well as other timely issues, and engages employees in the material.
- Be easy to update
Sexual harassment training should be designed so that regular updates can be made easily and cost effectively. Not only is it critical that training stay current with federal, state and local regulations, it’s important to refresh the content so employees aren’t repeating the same course year after year. After all, how can a story hold your attention when you already know the ending?
- Engage a 21st century workforce
Incorporating interactivity, realistic video scenarios, assessments with point-scoring throughout the course and other eLearning techniques are some of the elements that make sexual harassment training more engaging for a 21st century workforce. In addition, the EEOC’s Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace said that regular, interactive training that is tailored to the organization and its workforce is an essential step in effectively addressing and preventing workplace harassment. Training that can easily be customized for your organization with graphics, images, videos, terminology and your own branding, policies and CEO message can provide a more relevant and relatable experience.
- Be mobile-optimized for flexibility and convenience
Training that is mobile-optimized provides greater flexibility for employees to access courses on their laptops, smartphones or tablets. Mobile technology also enables HR managers and administrators to assign courses, monitor employees’ progress, send out email or text reminders and view future training requirements, anytime and anywhere.
- Raise awareness and promote respect and civility
One of the conclusions of the EEOC task force is that harassment training must move away from simply focusing on avoiding legal liability to preventing workplace harassment and promoting respect, civility and bystander intervention. By raising employee awareness of these topics – as well as their own behavior and the behavior of others – sexual harassment training can promote inclusive thinking and decision making, and teach employees how to be active bystanders when they see or experience harassment.
- Ask for employee feedback
Training that includes a survey or feedback form at the end of the course allows the organization to get on-the-spot opinions about the training and possible ways to improve it. Asking employees for their feedback also sends a message that their opinions and training experience matter.
In the #MeToo era, choosing the right sexual harassment training program has never been more important. Regardless of your specific industry or size, look beyond a checklist of requirements. Effective harassment prevention training should engage, educate and influence employees to make the right decisions, take appropriate action, and create a workplace that is respectful, inclusive and free of harassment and discrimination.