Anti-harassment training in the post-COVID era: HR's new role.

AuthorHoffman, Carrie
PositionSpeaker's Corner... insights from presenters at the 2021 HR Specialist Summit

The dramatic return of sexual harassment cases to the forefront of pop culture and employment litigation the past couple years should serve as a wake-up call to human resource professionals to reconsider whether they are relying on outdated and awkward harassment training videos or other boilerplate programs.

Are these impersonal training modules engaging employees and accurately presenting company expectations? Are the employer's expectations set forth in clear and simple terms within the culture of the specific workplace? Are employees provided information on how and where to raise concerns if they arise?

Now is the time to consider why you are providing the training and the goals you're trying to achieve. Is the goal simply to check the box that training was provided? Or is it to educate employees on professional conduct expectations along with complaint avenues?

Employees who are truly engaged in training will take away more details and retain important information. Therefore, those poor-production training videos that may have been purchased on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1986 recognition of sexual harassment as a violation of Title VII should likely be replaced.

Employers should consider the following concepts when implementing anti-harassment training to engage and address these challenging times:

  1. Put those outdated, impersonal videos in the recycle bin. As we emerge from COVID, focus on live training instead, even if it is via video conference for employers that have employees across the country. These interactive training sessions are more likely to impress upon employees that the company takes these matters seriously and will lead to a more open dialogue. Moreover, it gives employees the names/faces to whom they can make complaints if they arise or ask questions. And, training should be regularly updated to avoid becoming stale. Include a short video message (if in-person is not feasible) from the CEO to employees to demonstrate the company's commitment.

  2. ...

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