Since the #MeToo movement began last year, and Starbucks decided to close its doors for a mandatory unconscious bias training for its employees, a lot of businesses have started taking a much closer look at their harassment prevention training programs and policies.
But should harassment prevention training be mandatory for all employees across all sectors and industries? Here are some benefits and concerns to consider.
Increased awareness. Without a doubt, when you implement harassment prevention training in your workplace, your employees’ overall awareness increases. Employees become more cognizant of their own actions, words, and behaviors, and how they affect others.
And they become more aware of what they can do to report harassment they experience or witness, as well as things they can do to help mitigate harassment in their own work environments.
Training for everyone. Currently, a lot of harassment training programs are only mandatory for managers and supervisors. But if everyone across your organization is trained in harassment prevention, it will decrease the total number of occurrences that happen and are reported over time, as well as those that go unreported.
More training for bystanders. When harassment training is mandatory for everyone, then bystanders who witness instances of harassment will also know exactly what to do and where to go.
They’ll feel more empowered and comfortable to report an instance of harassment, and they’ll be opposed to the harasser because they will be less likely to fear retaliation. And it will create a work environment where everyone is ensuring one another’s safety and welfare.
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Extra productive and inclusive workforce. When employees feel safe and as if they truly matter and never worry that their security and sense of personhood will be up for ridicule or debate, they will be more productive at work and more inclusive.
Research has even revealed that more inclusive teams are more productive and that they make better decisions that yield better results.
Increased costs. When harassment prevention training of various types becomes mandatory for every single employee across an organization, costs will rise. More resources and hours will need to go toward training employees in harassment prevention.
And administrative costs and costs that are associated with developing such courses and materials to ensure compliance will also increase. You’ll need to determine who will manage employee records, requirements, and update resources as needed on a rolling basis, as well as who will make sure your organization is complying with any relevant state and local laws.
Steep learning curve. Many training professionals have no idea where to begin when it comes to implementing harassment prevention training because so many have never implemented it before. So, they’ll have a very steep learning curve.
It will be imperative that organizations seek out the best and most relevant information for their individual organizations when developing and implementing their own courses and materials, and they’ll need to consult professionals external to their organizations who are well-versed in harassment prevention training and curricula. Otherwise, certain training initiatives could end up having a negative impact on an organization.
Be sure to consider the benefits and concerns for mandatory harassment prevention training listed above as you develop initiatives for your own organization.