Sensitivity training focuses on making your employees aware of their behavior and attitude toward others. This includes individuals who are different in age, religion, gender, color, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and other categories outlined under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The training also teaches your employees how to be respectful of people with different backgrounds, experiences, and communication styles. Whether your employees are working in the office or from home, the ability to show empathy for how other people may be experiencing the world is a crucial step in creating a more inclusive and equitable workplace culture.
The idea of treating everybody in the workplace with fairness and respect may sound simple, but often people fall back on unconscious bias and stereotypes when they make workplace decisions, such as who to promote or hire or invite to join a group. If they can’t identify and manage these behaviors, they can undermine your diversity and inclusion efforts and lead to claims of harassment and discrimination. That’s why it’s important to conduct sensitivity training.
There are several benefits of conducting sensitivity training. These include:
If you want to learn more about the benefits of sensitivity training, head to this article.
Sensitivity training usually includes the following courses:
The bulk of sensitivity training involves self-reflection, which allows your employees to assess their values, feelings, and beliefs, and then realizing how these factors might affect how they relate with others in the workplace.
You should keep in mind that the delivery of sensitivity training is crucial for its success. If the training is delivered poorly, it can have a negative impact on your company’s culture. Here are a few steps to successfully bring sensitivity training to your company:
Prior to the training, provide information for your employees about what exactly the training sessions will involve. Explain what is expected of them during the training. This can help reduce their anxiety about trying something new. If they know what to expect, they can concentrate on the learning and training rather than their potential discomfort with the unknown.
Learning goals are the basis of each training session. These will emphasize the knowledge, values, and skills that your team will master by attending the training. More importantly, however, learning goals should be derived from the needs assessment — a formal, systematic process of determining and assessing training that should be carried out or specific needs of a group of employees or customers. Having clear objectives increases the potential and impact of your training by setting expectations and ensuring your employees that the topics being covered are relevant to the feedback they had provided.
In turn, learning goals must be measurable. It’s impossible to support and sustain training sessions in the future without being able to speak to your training’s success. When it comes to establishing measurable goals, you can follow the SMART format. SMART stands for:
Make clear to your employees that the training is their responsibility and they need to take it seriously. They are expected to apply themselves to the training process before, during, and after the session. This includes completing pre-assignments, participating in each session actively, and applying what they have learned to their work.
If you hired a sensitivity training expert, make sure they supply pre-training assignments. Thought-provoking or reading exercises in advance of each session can promote thoughtful consideration of the training content. Self-assessments or exercises, provided and scored in advance of the session, can save a lot of time for interaction and new information.
These ideas will engage your employees in thinking about the topic of the session before it’s carried out. This provides important paybacks in terms of their involvement, commitment, and interest.
If you plan to conduct the training without the help of an external training provider, make sure to train managers and supervisors either first or simultaneously with the other employees to make sure they know and understand the information provided in the training session. This will allow the manager or supervisor to model the appropriate learning and behavior, create an environment in which employees can apply what they have learned, and provide the clear expectation that they expect to see different thinking or behavior as a result of the training.
Here’s an article that discusses the importance of sensitivity training for managers.
The structure of your training session can be “make or break.” Thus, it should be planned carefully after you have created the training’s learning goals.
The structure provides you with a timeline to follow and will be indicative of how clearly you’re addressing your employees’ training assessment needs. You can share a simplified version of your sensitivity training session with your employees in advance so that they can be better prepared the day of.
To further promote sensitivity in the office, provide situations that prompt your employees to think about what they would do if a similar scenario occurred. This self-reflection is crucial for self-awareness, which allows your employees to neutralize their thoughts, actions, emotions, and feelings.
With the right approach, your company’s sensitivity training will increase your employees’ understanding of their role in establishing a more equitable workplace for everyone.