Behavioral workplace training is nothing new. Organizations of every kind have been doing it for years, and the business case is clear: in 2015, the EEOC recovered nearly $165 million for employees alleging harassment at work. And even when it doesn’t result in legal action, dysfunctional workplace culture contributes to low productivity and morale and increased turnover and absenteeism.
But the business-case-mentality for training has a problem—training focused on mitigating legal liability actually backfires. When employees find training to be too abstract, too removed from their daily activities, or intended solely to protect the legal and business interests of the company, the training can make uncivil behavior worse. That goes for both sexual harassment training and diversity training.
Instead of investing in training that doesn’t address “lawful but awful” workplace behavior, organizations should reframe their training and culture initiatives around respect. That’s the goal of the EEOC’s “Leading for Respect” (for supervisors) and “Respect in the Workplace” (for employees) civility training programs. EEOC Outreach & Education Co-ordinator Erika-Mocha Suell will speak about the training at our Summer Ethics Luncheon later this month. Save your seat and learn how to take your training initiative from compliance to ethics.
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