What is Workplace Awareness Training?
Programs that educate employees about policies and expectations make them AWARE of the conduct and performance required – and expected – by you and your business.
When communication problems exist at the workplace, it is usually because employees do not know what they can and cannot say or what they can and cannot do.
But people WANT to know. It’s human nature to be curious about rules, boundaries, and considerations.
Disciplining after the fact isn’t the answer, so that’s why Workplace Awareness Training should be front and center in workplace education programs.
In brief, Workplace Awareness Training provides programs that are comprehensive and interactive. Information is absorbed through both visual and auditory means. Learning is enhanced when Helene Horn Figman, joined occasionally by guest instructors, share anecdotes, pose scenarios, and help employees understand appropriate solutions.
With Workplace Awareness Training, our goal is to make attendees think. The greatest compliment we receive is when the owner of a business tells us employees were still talking about the program days later and how they were made aware of their behaviors and potential problems they might have been causing, unintentionally.
Our programs are customized and tailored to the particular type of business or industry, as well as the workplace culture. We take into consideration whether the training should be casual or more formal, and the nature of audience.
Training programs are, in essence, education tools. They help employees understand appropriate workplace conduct and who within the organization they should speak to with any concerns. While training is crucial for any organization, it’s especially important for those that may not have a built-out HR department; often just one person handles HR issues in addition to a host of other responsibilities. Our training programs, allow organizations to share important dialogues with their employees throughout the year. In addition to contributing to a positive work culture, these dialogues also correspond with a requirement of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which encourages a positive dialogue between employers and employees in certain situations, particularly with accommodation of qualified disabled employees. Not only is this a best practice but it is also vital for good employee relations.
Through training, employees can best understand to whom they should speak regarding their issues and concerns, the types of actions or activities that should be reported, and why they should be reported.
Pay Now or Pay Later
Education Programs serve as an investment in your employees. Employers in most states are REQUIRED to distribute their anti-harassment policies annually – but how do you facilitate that distribution? Do you hand out a hard copy of the policies? Do you e-mail the policies or post them in your internal company portal? While those practices may meet the letter of the law, they are not necessarily effective. It is questionable as to whether anyone has read the policies or, if they have, whether they truly understand them.
Some employers may consider these types of education programs a luxury – especially in times when businesses are paying more for products, for machinery, for gas for their employees to go out on the road, and for just about everything! But making the investment now helps to create an atmosphere where people understand the anti-harassment policies that are in place, and how they impact the workplace. The return on this investment is huge – if an organization decides to forego continual training practices, it risks being sued and paying 10 to 100 times more in a settlement or penalty than what they would have paid for training programs.
Workplace stress is – no surprise – incredibly common. Workplace Awareness Training serves as a communication tool and helps to determine ways that the employer can take steps to ensure a less stressful workplace environment. Building a supportive culture is vital to mitigating workplace stress.
Training that addresses bias, diversity, and how we all see and relate to each other serves to help employees who are feeling somewhat disenfranchised. A supportive culture demonstrates that an employer acknowledges and addresses bias in the workplace, cares about diversity, and is willing to discuss culture and/or unconscious bias.
Those who are familiar with Fred Rogers know he made a point of showing that actions speak louder than words, demonstrating time and again through his television show, “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood”, the importance of reflecting on, acknowledging, and respecting diversity.
Ultimately, Workplace Awareness Training reduces the risk of workplace harassment and discrimination, helps both employees and employers recognize and manage biases, and fosters a company culture of respect.
Why Is Anti-Harassment & Anti-Discrimination Training Important?
While it is not a requirement in all states, most Equal Employment and Human Rights agencies encourage employers to conduct education and anti-harassment training programs for all employees on a regular basis. Employers are further advised to conduct additional training for supervisory and managerial employees, which should address their specific responsibilities as well as the steps that such employees should take to ensure immediate and appropriate corrective action in addressing harassment complaints. This is significant because employers are vicariously liable for the conduct of those persons that they place in supervisory positions.
In some cases, an employer’s failure to train hiring managers and supervisors about the legal issues around discrimination law amounts to a reckless indifference of the law. Lack of such training has been found to justify an award against the employer. In cases where punitive damages may be sought, proof of training may mitigate (reduce) the damages assessed.
In order to avoid or diminish liability, appropriate detailed training must be conducted to show that the employer took reasonable care to prevent sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Insufficient or poor training with inappropriate information will not support an employer’s good faith efforts to prevent harassment or offer a reasonable defense.
Employers need more than an “in name only” policy demonstrating that one’s employees watched a few videos on the computer. This approach is woefully insufficient.
Training is a preventative course of action necessary to protect the interests of all businesses; however, compliance training is not beneficial if not customized to your business culture. Workplace Awareness Training customizes its programs so that a corporation with 80 – 120 manufacturing employees is not receiving the same type of presentation as a 15-person dental practice.
Attorney Figman’s experience in litigating harassment and discrimination cases, as well as her service as a state administrative hearings officer in such cases, enhances her ability to provide high quality legally compliant training. She has completed MCAD training certification for anti- discrimination/anti-harassment programs. She develops separate training sessions for managers/supervisors and employees to ensure that each group is provided with focused comprehensive programs designed for their distinctly different needs. In addition, each training program is interactive and prepared for the employer’s unique type of business and corporate culture.
Specialized Management Training
All employees must be taught to recognize and avoid harassment and discrimination. But managers have additional responsibilities. In addition to learning about discrimination laws and what constitutes different types of discrimination and harassment, managers must understand their significant role in serving as the employer’s first line of defense. A manager is often unaware of the proper way to address an employee’s complaint or respond to a request for reasonable accommodation. Sometimes those in authority go too far and either volunteer “advice” or refuse an employee’s request without knowing whether such request is considered reasonable and thus required.
Our management training includes in-depth case scenarios where common employee relations issues are portrayed so that managers may learn to effectively communicate within the parameters of anti-harassment & anti- discrimination laws.
Helene Horn Figman also creates unique manager guides, which are distributed at the training and retained by the management attendees for future reference.
Schedule Your Appointment Today
Ms. Figman provides in-person training to sites with only twelve employees to companies with over one hundred employees. Her virtual presentations have been a great resource to employers during these times of remote work. She also addresses business groups and professional organizations.