Screen-grab from a Traliant training video.
Screenshot Industrial Sexual Harassment

Training to Prevent Sexual Harassment

March 19, 2020
Promoting a safe, harassment-free work environment can help attract and retain skilled employees.

By Andrew Rawson, Traliant co-founder and chief learning officer

As contracting businesses continue to face a labor shortage, promoting a safe, harassment-free work environment can help attract and retain skilled employees from diverse talent pools. Implementing a well-designed sexual harassment training program is an important step in setting behavior expectations and building a positive, productive workplace. 

Here are seven things to keep in mind when implementing efforts to prevent harassment and improve workplace culture.

1. Tailor training to the construction industry To make training more engaging and relevant, it should reflect the unique working environment of the trades. By depicting realistic situations that employees may encounter, whether on a service call, in the field, in the office or at an industry event, training can demonstrate how workplace laws and expectations for conduct apply in day-to-day interactions.

2. Ensure compliance with state requirements

The #MeToo movement has raised awareness of the pervasive problem of workplace harassment and led to new anti-harassment laws. This year, 29 states have introduced over 100 pieces of legislation related to sexual harassment, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. So far, six states—New York, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Delaware and Mainehave passed laws that require employers to conduct regular sexual harassment prevention training.

3. Leverage eLearning technologies Innovations in eLearning strategies and tools are transforming online compliance training into an interactive, engaging learning experience. Rather than click through boring slides and legal definitions, employees can learn about the different types of harassment and other misconduct through realistic scenarios and interactive assessments.

4. Make training available anytime, on any device Construction employees often have emergencies and unpredictable schedules, which can make it hard to fit training in during a “typical workday.” Mobile-optimized training enables employees to access courses anytime on their smartphones, tablets or laptops, and to receive bite-sized videos about relevant issues throughout the year.

5. Teach bystander intervention Before the #MeToo era, bystander intervention training was mostly found in the military and on college campuses. Today, it’s considered one of the most effective ways to stop workplace misconduct before it rises to the level of illegal harassment and discrimination. Teaching employees different ways to safely step in and speak up before, during or after witnessing harassment empowers individuals to defuse potentially harmful situations, support coworkers who are targets, and help prevent future incidents.

6. Support diversity and inclusion Creating a positive work environment includes training employees and managers on the benefits of diversity, inclusive actions and working effectively with people of different backgrounds, cultures, races, religions and ideas. Training should also address unconscious biases—those hidden attitudes based on stereotypes that we all have. In the workplace, if unconscious biases aren’t recognized and managed, it can lead to discriminatory behavior and decisions, such as not promoting a high-performing employee or not offering a candidate a job because of their gender.  

7. Encourage reporting

Many incidents of workplace harassment go unreported because employees don’t know how to report them or because they fear retaliation. Training is an ideal tool to communicate the importance of reporting incidents of misconduct and explain how—typically, through an anonymous hotline or website, or by contacting HR or a supervisor. Additionally, managers and supervisors who may deal with discrimination and harassment complaints should be trained on how to appropriately handle complaints and avoid retaliatory behavior.  As contractors consider new ways to attract and retain a 21st-century workforce, choosing a harassment-prevention training program tailored to the construction industry is a positive step in raising awareness and creating a workplace where all employees feel valued, respected and inspired to reach their full potential.

Andrew Rawson is the Chief Learning Officer and Co-Founder of Traliant, a provider of award-winning sexual harassment training for today’s diverse, mobile workforce. He leads Traliant’s team of eLearning content developers and instructional designers and advises organizations on training to prevent discrimination and harassment and other essential compliance and workplace conduct and culture topics.

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