From discrimination and harassment based on fears about COVID-19 to addressing new cyber security risks, organizations are facing daily compliance and culture challenges. This excerpt from a recent Training Magazine article by Andrew Rawson, Traliant’s Chief Learning Officer, highlights four training topics that can help HR and training teams keep staff focused on the right behaviors now and in the coming weeks and months as people gradually return to working onsite.
During these unpredictable times, a modern, online training program that is mobile optimized and accessible to employees and managers 24/7 is an important step in reinforcing the right behaviors and maintaining a respectful, inclusive workplace culture.
And while this pandemic has slowed business activity for many organizations, it’s also created an opportunity to get ahead of upcoming compliance training deadlines (six states now require sexual harassment training) and offer additional courses on relevant workplace topics. These include:
- Preventing harassment and discrimination
Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in discrimination, bullying, and social stigma against people of Asian descent, people who have traveled, emergency responders, and healthcare workers. The message should be clear to employees that standards of professional conduct don’t change when they’re interacting in live chats or on videoconferences. Texting sexual images, excluding certain people from team chats, and making negative comments on social media are just a few real-world examples of behaviors training can address—reinforcing what is and isn’t acceptable behavior.
- Bystander intervention and allyship
Bystander intervention training is another way to raise awareness of inappropriate behavior and prevent future incidents—whether they occur in-person or online. Knowing how to safely intervene enables bystanders to speak up against sexual harassment or other inappropriate actions, and show support and empathy to co-workers, who may feel even more isolated. Workplace experts agree that encouraging allyship can have a positive influence on creating a more diverse and inclusive culture.
- Workplace civility and respect
An effective workplace harassment program also should encompass civility and respect—important concepts that take on a new relevance when work-family routines are upended. Employees who feel respected tend to be healthier, more focused, more likely to stay with their organizations, and far more engaged in their work, according to Christine Porath, author and professor of management at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.
- Data privacy and information security
Training employees on how to protect confidential and sensitive information also should be part of remote-worker initiatives. Hackers are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic and targeting businesses and employees by hijacking Zoom meetings and sending out phishing emails posing as officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. Effective information security training should provide examples of different types of phishing, malware, and ransom attacks; explain the risks of using public networks; and highlight best practices for protecting devices and keeping company data and systems secure.
COVID-19 is causing many changes and disruptions in organizations across almost every industry. However, the pandemic should not undermine an organization’s values, principles and standards of conduct. A modern, online training program that reflects your industry and work environment is an important component in addressing and preventing harassment and discrimination and strengthening workplace culture during these unsettling times and beyond.