Help! My Harassment Training’s Not Working

Learning Minutes

An HR director says she wrote a good harassment policy and provided training for her employees, but she's still getting complaints about bad behavior. What can she do? Find out in this week's Kantola Learning Minute with workplace trainer Linda Garrett, JD.

Hi, I'm Linda Garrett with a Kantola Learning Minute.

An HR director recently contacted us for help. She wrote a good policy, and provided harassment training for her people, but is still getting complaints from employees about coworker misbehavior. "What more can I do?" she asks.

Well, you know, even the best training in the world won't change behavior if employees believe your policies won't be enforced. People just seem to instinctively know when their employer is providing training to 'check the box' and won't really take action if the policy is ignored.

So here's what I'd suggest: Make sure your top management attends your next training and ask them to say a word or two to introduce the trainer and state their own commitment to the issue. As HR Director, you might then want to acknowledge that there have been issues in the past and that things are going to change. Assume the best about people and explain that you don't really believe that people come to work with the intention of causing harm to their coworkers, and that you think one reason the complaints have continued is that some folks don't fully understand that their behavior is not only hurtful, but also illegal. And then talk about the consequences for failure to follow the policy. Explain that zero tolerance means that you will step in and stop behavior as soon as it crosses the line, and that you have no intention of letting it continue until there's been a formal complaint. And then, of course, do not hesitate to initiate disciplinary action if there's a violation of your policy. This is the best way to demonstrate that your policy has teeth, and that you're gonna be serious about enforcing it. I have a feeling that things will be better over time and you'll be seeing fewer complaints.

I hope this helps. Thanks for joining us today.

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