Grappling with what we now know about the severity of harassment in the workplace during these already unsettled times, it is becoming clearer just how crucial training and education programs are to and for employees. Most larger companies prefer online training for consistency and broad implementation. But with so many options available on the eLearning market, how do you know you are choosing the right program for your organization?
More importantly, how can you be sure the training you have selected is going to create real, long-lasting change, and not simply serve the immediate need to “do something”?
Where to Begin: Knowing Your Audience
When looking for the right harassment prevention training program, it is key to select one that best suits your organization’s employees, goals and culture. Every company is different, and it all starts with taking a closer look at what the problem areas might be within your own place of work.
As a first step, take the needs of your employees into consideration by looking at past problems or patterns to spot common themes, and use this information to help determine your needs.
For example, you might find that microaggressions are present in your workplace, or maybe your employees would benefit from more resources on bystander-intervention training. Knowing where to begin will help you recognize what different harassment prevention trainings can offer, and what the best-fit looks like in aligning with your goals.
What to Look for: Best Practices in HP Training
Good training should leave participants feeling like they can better identify and deal with harassment in the workplace. A study from Wharton pointed out that education and training are particularly influential in voice behavior—that is, in speaking out against bias and calling out issues. Even more, eLearning offers the advantage of consistency and serves many employees—wherever they are—across multiple locations and time zones.
Plus, good training will help in achieving compliance and reduce the risk of significant and severe consequences for your organization. But what does this look like? When it comes to harassment prevention training, there are a few key things to look for:
- Go beyond blatant harassment: The training should include a strong focus on early intervention, covering topics that go beyond blatant harassment and are considered to be in the “gray area,” such as bias, bullying, and workplace relationships.
- Include wide-ranging demographics: It is important to look for gender-balanced training, including a wide range of demographics—harassment occurs based on many other factors too, like disability, religion, national origin—the list goes on. Having diverse representation will maximize learner acceptance and absorption of the learning objectives. Without this, the training can have counterproductive effects.
- Be compliant and accessible: You will want to be sure the training you are looking for offers state-specific versions, is 100% compliant with the most up-to-date federal and state legal requirements (meaning, the content is frequently updated) and meets accessibility standards. Training should be grounded on a solid legal platform, with contextual legal commentary threaded throughout.
- Offer an immersive and interactive experience for the learner: At its best, training will provide opportunities for reflection and draw learners in by making a connection to real people and authentic stories. Hearing another person share their own story—and how they felt—creates an easily accessible path for learners to connect to their own experience.
- Have the ability to tailor to your technical and administrative needs: It is important to consider your training delivery methods, asking questions like: ‘is your training software easy to use both for admins and employees?’, ‘can it be integrated into your company’s LMS?’, and ‘does it take care of all key functions, such as tracking completion, reminders, etc.?’ A high-quality, and engaging training like this can and should be valuable beyond its price point.
- Include modern instructional design techniques: Good instructional design meets learners where they are, carefully considering how to convey the information in a way that is engaging and effective. The content should be about more than just remembering or understanding concepts. It should also enable learners to analyze, evaluate, and ultimately apply their comprehension in relevant scenarios.
What to Avoid
1. Training that lacks the power of storytelling
Research confirms that well-designed stories are the most effective vehicle for exerting influence. If a company prides itself on bite-sized training sessions, it is likely to be less engaging, and more likely to be geared towards a “quick-fix” instead of real, long-lasting change.
2. Training that lacks guidance on bystander intervention
Keep in mind that not all harassment training includes a bystander intervention component. Traditional prevention training can sometimes alienate participants, as it focuses on discipline or correction. Incorporating effective bystander intervention training has the ability to do the opposite by focusing on worker empowerment. It can also help in creating a cohesive workplace—one where workers look out for one another.
3. Low-quality training experience
Even if a low-budget film has a compelling story, the viewer’s enjoyment and immersion in that story can be tainted, simply because of poor visual effects, lack of quality sound engineering, or inexperienced actors. Just like in a film, if training has these low-quality features, it is less likely your employees will be able to relate to the experience. They may focus more on what is wrong with the training, and less on what they can gain from it.
Ultimately, finding the right training for your organization, though at first glance can appear intimidating, can lead to an experience that will unify your employees—creating real and long-lasting impact. Excellent training can offer an opportunity to change perspectives, elevate culture, and maintain a work environment where everyone feels included, valued and celebrated.