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Tips for Providing Mandatory HR Training

Make HR Training Effective

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Tips for Providing Mandatory HR Training Copyright Diane Diederich

In every company, Human Resources (HR) training in many employee-related and legally-related topics is mandatory, especially for managers and supervisors. We need to equip our employees to handle their employee relations responsibilities competently.

But, for maximum positive impact and learning, we need to make the training motivational and engaging.

HR Training Example

This is what we set out to do with a sexual harassment and harassment training session. This training will be the example used for all of these tips.

To start, an HR Manager at a client company sent an email to all executives and managers asking them to save a three hour block of time for mandatory training in how to prevent sexual and other harassment in their workplace.

I found out later that the group was totally freaked out by the thought of spending three hours on harassment training. Fortunately for me, what set the parameters for the training session, was the video / DVD we had purchased for the session: Preventing Sexual Harassment, from HR Hero. Fortunately for me, too, since I was the one who watched it four times in preparation for the session, the video was great. I also took the time, in preparation, to jot down every incident of workplace harassment I 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 actions you can take to make HR training sessions effective and enjoyable for participants. Let's consider the actions taken 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 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 HR-related training - not less. Follow-up reading and discussion is recommended. Managers and supervisors are the front line when it comes to managing employee performance and needs from work - and they need to take appropriate action. In harassment, as well as in other law suit-engaging topics, as an employer, demonstrating that they did 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 caught up in the situation, too.

    And, 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 supervisor 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 training internally, come with examples you've experienced or researched.

  • Know what training is mandatory in your state or locale. California, as an example, requires sexual harassment training every two years. Why not get in the habit before it is mandated by government?

  • Make sure your employee handbook has the appropriate policies and standards of conduct needed to educate your employees and provide roadmaps for guidance. The appropriate policies also give you the support necessary to enforce their implementation in your workplace.

    Using harassment as our 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. In these policies, you need to include a strongly-worded statement that retaliation will not be allowed in your workplace, regardless of te outcome of the complaint.

    I'm not a fan of non-fraternization policies. I think 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.

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.

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