Harassment Avoidance Training: What Does It Include?

Harassment avoidance training is now staple in the modern workplace where employees, both subordinates and executives, are made aware of the prejudices that may be present within the office. Harassment training usually involves a series of videos or presentations showing real-life examples of harassment and remedies that can be used to rectify said instances. 

What Should be Included in Harassment Avoidance Training? 

Over the past decade and especially with the beginning of the Me Too movement back in 2017, workplaces have become increasingly conscious of the environment they foster. Therefore, companies worldwide are looking to introduce comprehensive harassment avoidance training that includes a variety of topics in an attempt to shed light on harassment in their offices. 

In addition to this, the harassment avoidance training options available now have to also adhere to the state laws put forward by the state government. 

For all employees, the harassment avoidance training will include: 

  • Anti-harassment policy

This is one of the more important aspects of the training period requiring the company to disclose all the information of the anti-harassment policy that is being put in place. This includes outlining all the consequences that will follow if a complaint has been made after an incident. 

  • Defining harassment

The beginning of every harassment avoidance training program will involve defining all the possible behaviors that can constitute harassment. This includes anything from sexual harassment to non-verbal harassment. In this way, employees become more aware of the behaviors that make the workplace hostile and when to file a complaint if they experience harassment. 

  • Dealing with harassment 

This involves going over the complaint process in detail. More often than not, employees refrain from filing complaints or allegations because they do not know the complaint procedure. Therefore, the program will go into detail about the possible options one has in case they are looking to file a complaint. 

  • Bystander intervention

Another way of empowering employees and bringing to light cases of harassment is to introduce employees to bystander intervention. This is where an employee chooses to help out a co-worker who is currently experiencing harassment or did experience harassment previously. This intervention can involve helping the victim make a complaint or interjecting themselves in a situation where an individual is being harassed. 

  • Anti-harassment laws

Employees need to be aware that there are also legal consequences that can ensue from harassment. The program will have to go into detail about the federal and state laws that are in place against harassment. In this way, both the employees that are prone to harassing their co-workers or victims of harassment become aware of the existing laws. 

For supervisors and other persons in authority, the training will involve: 

  • Supervisor responsibilities

As a supervisor, the training program will help one understand the behavior that can result in an employee feeling harassed and prevent it from happening. In addition to this, it also makes the supervisors aware of how they can intervene in harmful instances and use their authority to create a more positive environment in the workplace. 

  • Complaint management 

Complaints filed against another co-worker or a supervisor have to be addressed almost immediately. Supervisors to whom the victim reports will have to coordinate with the HR department, the perpetrators, and the victims to reach a reasonable resolution. 

  • Investigation and resolution

The supervisors will also have to follow certain protocols while investigating an allegation. A good training program will ensure a proper rundown of all the essential things to make an investigation unbiased and effective. 

This includes getting truthful first-hand experiences from both parties and looking at facts rather than opinions. Finally, depending on the severity of the incident, a decision has to be reached to compensate the victim for the damage caused. 

In this way, if a company offers a training program, they should ensure that it covers training for all the individuals working in the office irrespective of their role. 

Characteristics of an Effective Harassment Avoidance Training Program

How does a company ensure that the hours spent on training its workforce will have a lasting impact? This question can be complex as it is difficult to ascertain just how much the training program participants have adopted. 

Therefore, a harassment avoidance training program is considered to be effective if it has the following characteristics: 

  • Relevance

The training program has to be relevant to the individuals that are participating in the workshop. This is because the training programs will differ depending on the industry the business is in and the office workforce’s demographic. For example, the anti-harassment training given to restaurant employees will differ from that of a software engineer in a tech company.

  • Prevention first approach

A major problem that can crop up when it comes to anti-harassment training programs is when the workshop relies heavily on painting a certain group of people in a negative light. For example, in most cases, white men are generally labeled as the perpetrators in harassment incidents. However, this can be insulting and untrue, causing all employees belonging to that group to feel offended by the generalization. 

The only way to stop this is to undertake a more positive approach to prevent harassment rather than point fingers at an entire group of employees. 

  • Lucid language

Programs need to be easy to understand, incorporating too many complex ideas and vocabulary can result in the training becoming boring. Programs that rely on legalese can be especially common when companies are only looking to comply with the legal requirements rather than implementing lasting change. 

  • Interactive training 

Another way to ensure that employees can adopt changes to otherwise harmful behavior is to introduce interactive training sessions. A training program is interactive when it specifically outlines real-life examples of harassment and how employees can react to it appropriately. It also includes a detailed course of actions that supervisors will take to prevent or handle complaints. 

  • Constant updation 

Training programs will also have to be updated constantly to ensure that a diverse range of employees is considered. In addition to this, there may be new instances of harassment that require a company to address it. Therefore, with every update, the content in the training program becomes more inclusive. 

The Bottom Line

The only way that an anti-harassment program becomes truly effective is when it brings conspicuous changes within the office’s culture. Whether it is improving the complaint procedure or updating the anti-harassment policy, the lasting benefits of a training program only appear after active efforts are taken.

In other words, introducing harassment avoidance training is the beginning of preventing harassment in the workplace and not a measure that can completely eradicate harassment.

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