New York Companies Will Have to Provide Anti-Sexual Harassment Training: What Kind of Training Will Really Work?

May 22, 2018 Jen Farthing

New York City and New York State legislation will require companies, even very small ones, to provide sexual harassment prevention training to all employees. This probably has a lot of business leaders wondering: How can I get the most out of my anti-harassment initiatives, and how can I make sure that the content sticks?

It’s important for anti-sexual harassment initiatives to build trust and respect in the workplace. Simple do’s and don’ts conveyed in many training programs aren’t enough to accomplish that: Workforce education has to reinforce the specific values-driven behaviors that the organization aspires to.

Here are three components of workplace education around harassment prevention that we’ve found to be effective:

Exploring gray areas can help employees gain a deeper understanding of the issues being addressed. For example, one of our scenario-based courses at LRN shows the perspectives of five different employees with contradictory points of view on various incidences of misconduct. Their ambiguous vantage points paint a realistic portrait of harassment, leaving employees better able to identify and respond to it.

Telling an evocative story in a creative way can convey the importance of this urgent topic, making the material more memorable. Another of our courses, for example, depicts a victim of workplace bullying developing physical injuries as the verbal bullying he’s subjected to becomes more and more hurtful. This brings to life the emotional cost of the subject matter in a way that simple exposition couldn’t.

Using interactive elements in training such as guided questioning, drag and drop activities, infographics, and short quizzes ensures that employees are retaining the content presented in these programs. While employees may absorb some of what they’ve learned by simply watching a video or listening to someone speak, it’s difficult to measure whether the content is sticking.

Still, training alone won’t change behavior or prevent misconduct. The overall goal should be a respectful workplace where difficult conversations can be had and where disrespectful behavior won’t be tolerated. There is no substitute for a culture of trust and respect, where employees feel comfortable speaking up and raising issues.

Contact us to learn more about our anti-harassment educational offerings.

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