In every company, Human Resources (HR) training in many employee-related and legally-related topics is mandatory, especially for managers and supervisors. You need to equip your employees to handle their employee relations responsibilities competently and legally.
But, for maximum positive impact and learning by the employees, you need to make the training both motivational and engaging—while still fulfilling its legal and educational purpose.
HR Training Example
To illustrate these tips, the example of developing and delivering a sexual harassment and general harassment training session is used. This session is a common example of this type of mandatory HR training that is conducted by most organizations.
To start the process, an HR manager sent an email to all senior executives and managers asking them to save a three-hour block of time for mandatory HR training in how to prevent sexual and other harassment in their workplace.
The HR manager found out later that the group was totally freaked out by the thought of spending three hours on harassment training. Fortunately for her, what set the parameters for the training session was the video/DVD purchased for the session: Preventing Sexual Harassment, from HR Hero.
Fortunately for the HR person selected to administer the training session since she was the one who watched it four times in preparation for the session, the video was great. Working with the HR staff, she took the time, in preparation, to jot down every incident of workplace harassment they had encountered over the years. Real workplace stories are so critical in HR training sessions to make dry material come alive.
Make HR Training Come Alive
These are five actions you can take to make HR training sessions effective and enjoyable for participants. Let's consider the actions taken by this HR manager to make this sexual harassment and harassment training session become more alive.
Preparation for training is crucial.
Especially for some of the dryer HR-related training topics such as harassment, FMLA, the ADA, employee handbooks, and writing job descriptions, you need to find and plan ways to engage your audience.
Reading the law or policy out loud to the group does not constitute training. Consider a mix of visual and multimedia support, discussion, examples from the real work world, and time for questions. Case studies, if realistic for the specific workplace, are a great learning tool.
You need to do more of the mandatory HR-related training—not less.
Follow-up reading and discussion about the topic of the mandatory training are recommended. Managers and supervisors are the front lines when it comes to managing employee performance and their needs from work—and they need to be prepared to take appropriate action.
In harassment, as well as in other law suit-engaging topics, as an employer, demonstrating that you took appropriate steps is crucial. In fact, demonstrating that you took immediate action and that the consequences for the perpetrator were severe, is also critical.
Any form of harassment can create a hostile work environment including sexual harassment and how it is addressed. The court's definition of what constitutes a hostile work environment has recently expanded to coworkers who are caught up in witnessing the situation, too.
Confidence is required from the leader investigating.
The front line leader is usually the person initiating and following through on those steps, so they have to feel confident about what they are doing. So, follow-up reading and support are crucial to a supervisor's effectiveness in handling problems.
Stories make training live. Try to utilize trainers with lots of real-world, real-time, workplace experience who have real stories. If you do the mandatory training internally, come prepared with examples you've experienced or researched.
Know what training is mandatory in your state or locale.
This requirement differs in various jurisdictions nationally and internationally. California, for example, requires two hours of sexual harassment training every two years. Why not get in the habit of providing training before mandatory HR training is required by governmental agencies?
Ensure your employee handbook has proper guidelines.
Make sure your employee handbook has the appropriate policies and standards of conduct needed to educate your employees and provide roadmaps for their guidance. The appropriate policies also give you the support necessary to enforce their implementation in your workplace.
Using sexual harassment as your ongoing example, your policy handbook needs a harassment policy, a policy about how investigations are conducted in your company, and a policy that forbids an employee in a supervisory role from dating a reporting employee.
Weigh carefully putting any dating or friendship restrictions on employees beyond managers not dating reporting staff members in your non-fraternization policy. The workplace is one of the logical locations for people to meet and fall in love, as long as the employees engaged in the relationship follow common sense guidelines. But, supervisors dating reporting staff is never appropriate.
In these policies, you need to include a strongly-worded statement that retaliation will not be allowed in your workplace, regardless of the outcome of the investigation of the employee's complaint. Sexual harassment investigations have been known to go horribly wrong as well.
Take the mandatory HR training you provide seriously because the legal consequences of the incompetent handling of employee relations issues can be consequential—and expensive. Since you're doing the mandatory HR training anyway, why not do it well to serve both your best interests and the best interests of your employees.
More About Training and Team Building
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Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided, while authoritative, is not guaranteed for accuracy and legality. The site is read by a world-wide audience and employment laws and regulations vary from state to state and country to country. Please seek legal assistance, or assistance from State, Federal, or International governmental resources, to make certain your legal interpretation and decisions are correct for your location. This information is for guidance, ideas, and assistance.