Harassment in the workplace has always been present in one form or another. While it may not have been as visible or as frequently discussed in the past, it is something that continues to have serious consequences especially when it goes unaddressed.
Consider all the recent harassment issues that have been taken public within major companies. It is a very serious issue and one that organizations must treat as such or risk losing the trust of their employees and customers.
The following are eight ideas that can assist you in creating an effective anti-harassment training process within your organization.
1. Ensure a Qualified Trainer is Leading the Training Sessions
Regardless of if you hire an external company or just ensure one of your human resources professionals is certified, you should have someone that is trained to provide anti-harassment training. People who are certified to lead anti-harassment training should be able to reach out to different employee types and make it relevant to them. Without that knowledge, the training will likely not be as effective.
2. Involve the Entire Organization
Everyone from the head of the company down should be involved in the anti-harassment training process. No one is exempt from experiencing harassment or even committing it, so no one should be exempt from the training. This will also keep it from appearing that the company is pointing fingers at anyone.
3. Train HR Employees, Supervisors, and Managers on How to Handle Complaints
Telling employees to turn in any harassment that they witness or personally experience is important, but it does no good if the person receiving the report does not know how to handle it. There should be specific protocols in place that all leadership knows, and leadership needs to take it seriously regardless of their personal opinions.
4. Make the Training Interactive
If you want your trainees to zone out, do nothing but talk to them. It is hard to listen to something for long periods of time while you sit idly by. Instead, make the training interactive. When trainees participate in the process, it will stay on their minds better.
5. Give Real-World Examples
Often, when people hear the word “harassment”, they think of extreme examples that have been seen in movies. Many do not realize that even what seems like a small comment can be considered harassment. It is imperative to make sure your employees understand what exactly harassment is from the smallest to the most extreme real-world examples.
6. Be Clear That There is a Zero Tolerance and No Retaliation Policy
Your employees need to understand just how serious this problem is and that you are treating it as such. Put a zero-tolerance policy and no retaliation policy into effect and add it into your harassment in the workplace training material. Be sure that employees understand these policies and know what the consequences will be. When they know that you are serious, they will probably not want to risk losing their jobs.
7. Consistently Evaluate
The world is constantly changing, and with it, the number of derogatory remarks and avenues on which to harass are growing. This means that you will consistently need to evaluate your training and policies to ensure that they are up to date and relevant. You should also consider asking for anonymous suggestions from employees on what they see and feel needs to be changed or addressed. They are the front line, after all. They may see gaps that you have not even considered.
8. Use a Combination of Training Materials
An often-overlooked fact in many settings is that not everyone learns and retains information the same way. There are entire studies dedicated to learning about different “learning styles” and how to make things work for that learning style. The material is often geared towards students and young children, but no one outgrows their learning style. Consider adding a combination of harassment in the workplace training materials, such as videos, reading materials, games (either live or online), audio, and more. The more material types you have, the better chance you have of covering all your employees’ learning types.
Harassment, regardless of the type, is a serious matter with serious repercussions. It simply cannot be tolerated in the workplace any longer. Organizations need to set strict rules and regulations about this type of behavior, make sure that employees understand those rules and regulations, and then follow through on stated consequences if harassment occurs. HR leaders and supervisors should work together to form very strict guidelines that can get the entire company on the same page.