Emtrain Blog

Now what? Three Steps to Implementing New Sexual Harassment Training in New York and California

Now what? Three Steps to Implementing New Sexual Harassment Training in New York and CaliforniaIn retrospect, we should have expected 2019 to be the year of sexual harassment prevention training. As the #MeToo movement swirled and grew, it became clear that something needed to be done about harassment in the workplace, and legislators got to work. In California, New York, and Delaware, employers will now need to train all employees on harassment prevention. That’s some 25 million employees.

To most, the new training requirement came as a surprise. Most critically, it came as a surprise to the people who have to implement it. If you’re one of them, you’re just getting your arms around it all. You need to roll out training in 2019, ensure a broad set of employees get trained, and find a way to pay for it, because the cost wasn’t budgeted. New York State offers a model training, but it’s a slide deck of text that might not hold the attention of your employees. California’s training requirements dictate that training must be an hour long. New York City requires bystander training. All of it needs to be tracked.

How are you going to deliver a training that employees actually appreciate, that helps curb bad behavior and doesn’t take a huge amount of your time? And how are you going to pay for it?

Thankfully, Patti Perez, our VP of Workplace Strategy and expert on harassment prevention in the workplace, has some prescriptive and practical ideas to help:

California Sends a Strong Message to Employers: Prevent and Address Sexual Harassment…or Else!

California Sends a Strong Message to Employers:  Prevent and Address Sexual Harassment…or Else!

There is a monumental seismic shift occurring throughout the country, but given California’s reputation as the place where seismic shifts are most likely to occur, it’s no surprise that it can be felt most strongly in the Golden State. What’s the shift, you ask? It’s all about how #MeToo and other movements related to sexual harassment have increased the legal obligations employers have to California employees to protect them from illegal harassment.

4 Steps To Develop Your Workplace Culture Skills

4 Steps To Develop Your Workplace Culture SkillsHave you ever been angry at your co-workers? Or vented to friends and family about workplace situations? Or perhaps you found out that co-workers were bummed out because of you? If so, it could be that you need to develop your workplace culture skills.

What are workplace culture skills, exactly? They are the skills that help you navigate co-worker interactions with patience, perspective, and respect and in a way that exhibits the values of your workplace. And like any other career skill, they take time, practice, and intention to develop them. But the payoff is a team that has developed their workplace culture skills is more likely to make ethical decisions and create a workplace that engages their employees.

Workplaces where the leadership team doesn’t take the time to develop these critical skills, on the other hand, may find themselves home to a high proportion of the 85% of employees worldwide who are not engaged or actively disengaged at work. And in case you’re thinking disengagement isn’t a big deal, it is estimated that disengagement leads to $7 trillion annually in lost productivity.

Now that you’ve seen the benefit to developing your workplace culture skills, here are four concrete steps you can take right now to develop them.

1. Learn Your Company Culture.
Progressive organizations intentionally create a workplace culture that reflects specific values and meets business goals. For example, Netflix and Indiegogo have both created cultures of candor and authenticity where employees expect their co-workers to address issues directly and sometimes, with startling candor.  We hosted leaders from both organizations to share more about their unique approach to workplace culture at a recent event. You can hear their perspectives in the video from the conversation, below.



In cultures like theirs, people need to get used to hearing colleagues speak bluntly. Similarly, Medallia has created a culture where employees are expected to provide feedback on each part of their workplace experience—a type of employee net promoter score for the workplace. Again, without knowing this, someone could be caught off guard when their co-workers regularly give feedback on any and all people operations.

Most workplaces have a specific culture, whether it’s intentional or not.  Take the initiative and learn about your workplace culture from leaders and other employees. Learn the preferred communication style, meeting protocol, preferred method to share concerns and circulate ideas, how to effectively make suggestions, etc. Knowing the workplace culture will help inform and guide your actions.

2 .Know Your Co-Workers.
Knowing and understanding how your co-workers are wired is a big part of interacting with minimal friction in the workplace. It also tends to make you more engaged in your work—that’s why the Gallup employee engagement survey asks if you have a best friend at work. While that terminology may be eye-roll-inducing for some of us, it gets to the core issue of the importance of having a trusted confidant and feeling a part of your workplace.

Make an effort, spend the time and get to know your co-workers and how they differ.  Some of us have thick skins; some have thin skins. Some like direct communication. Some people need more gentle, indirect messages. Learning about your co-workers and their personal likes and dislikes is absolutely essential to interacting with them in a productive way.

3. Engage and Dialog.
Information is the key to understanding, and the more you dialog with co-workers and flesh out their views on a variety of topics, the more you can tailor your actions to what works for them. Similar to the philosophy of Ken Blanchard’s The Servant Leader, you can serve up the types of actions your co-workers want if you flesh out their views. This effort includes learning how to shift your perspective and see a situation from your co-worker’s perspective. Understanding your co-workers’ different perspectives on work situations will help you navigate those situations in a much easier fashion.

4. Analyze.
Teams and companies should be soliciting anonymous information and feedback from employees on a regular basis about both their concerns and what they value. The feedback from these efforts shouldn’t just be shared with the leadership. It’s important that individuals on teams also have access to these insights so they too can take note and do more of what people value and do less of what causes people concern.

Obtaining employee feedback doesn’t have to be a complicated or expensive undertaking. People managers can also anonymously survey their own teams using an easy solution like Google forms, and ask questions to better understand how people are experiencing the workplace—both the positives and the negatives. The resulting information will provide visibility and allow managers to get a finger on the pulse of any trending issues and concerns on the team.

Yes, I know these four steps seem to be pretty easy to do and based on common sense. But how often do any of us consciously and intentionally take these steps to develop our workplace culture skills? Let’s stop being reactive to people and situations and instead, be proactive and deliberate. Follow these four steps and you’ll develop strong workplace culture skills that will help you minimize frustrating days and increase your positive co-worker interactions!

How to Develop Our Workplace Respect Skill

How to Develop Our Workplace Respect SkillStudies show that work conflict impacts us in pretty significant ways—often even more than personal or family drama. That's because our identities are often tied to our work. So feeling disrespected can affect our self-esteem and trigger anxiety, stress - and often lead to conflict.

It's easy to say we should act respectfully in the workplace. But what does respect look like when we're stressed and facing a big deadline? Or, when we are out of the office having fun with co-workers?

You might think "Respect is easy—because I'm a good person." But good people make poor choices all the time. So what’s the difference between being “good” and being “respectful”?

Being respectful is intentional and takes practice and skill.

Creating a shared language of respect

Developing Our Culture Competency

Developing Our Culture CompetencyWhy Workplace Skills Are Just As Important As Career Skills
People prepare for their career by developing and practicing the skills related to their domain.  Marketers practice writing; salespeople practice the challenger sale; software developers practice coding, etc.  Sometimes, people learn a second set of skills when they take on a management or leadership role. These skills support the ability to manage a team or lead a department.  

Working on a team with different sorts of people also requires skill.  At least it does if you want a healthy workplace culture.  So what do workplace skills entail?  Workplace skills support the ability to be respectful and inclusive, and make good ethical decisions.  These three skills, working in tandem, create a healthy workplace culture which benefits recruitment, retention, and productivity.  But these three skills don’t just happen. They actually take intention, practice, and development. And when you deliberately cultivate those skills, that’s culture competency.


Core Culture Competency Skills at Work

Let’s start with being respectful.  It sounds pretty simple and it’s easy to think that any decent person could easily be respectful with co-workers.  But that’s a bit simplistic.  What happens when a “decent” person is stressed and out of patience?  Or letting off steam with co-workers after work?  Or is socially unaware of context and people’s reactions to their comments?  

There are plenty of “decent” people that act disrespectfully—sometimes unknowingly; sometimes carelessly; sometimes recklessly.  People need to be consciously respectful when they interact with co-workers.  Consciously respectful means we learn how to be patient and not react to difficult situations.  Instead, we shift our perspective and see the situation through another person’s lens.  

What about the ability to be inclusive?  Again, being consciously inclusive means we slow down; rely on a neutral framework to help us make better workplace decisions and make an effort to switch our perspective to see a situation from another person’s shoes.  This sounds easy, but it’s not.  It takes practice.  And just because you’re a smart person with good intentions doesn’t mean you’re automatically inclusive.

How about making ethical decisions?  When people are emotional and excited at a personal benefit or scared about a negative situation, then anyone can rationalize anything!  Any of us can tell ourselves a story that supports an intended decision—no matter how unethical.

What about when a good person finds a great business opportunity that benefits them personally, but not necessarily their employer?  Or when a good person is on the verge of getting fired and is motivated to “fudge” facts a bit to keep their job a little while longer?  Our emotions control our actions so much of the time and sometimes, those emotions are counter-productive to a healthy workplace culture.  So the ability to make good, ethical decisions comes from slowing down; identifying whether we have any personal motivations influencing our decision (either positive or negative) and then using a neutral framework to help us make better workplace decisions.  

Making ethical decisions is a conscious, practiced skill… it’s not just an innate characteristic of “good” people.  The same applies to inclusion and respect.  Yet organizations predominantly treat these skills as rules that people can quickly absorb in order to comply with organizational values.  That’s the wrong approach with the wrong intention, driven by lawyers whose main intention is to prevent and defend litigation—not to develop workplace skills.  Your intention drives results and when your intention is risk management, you don’t build skills.  But these are skills in the same way people have management skills.  Yes, you can read a book and theoretically understand the concepts… but it takes ongoing practice to become competent in these areas.  And that’s what employees and organizations need—cultural competency.

Developing Your Culture Competency Takes Intention and Practice

These are not innate abilities. Just because you are a well-intentioned person doesn’t mean you will be a great member of the workplace. That’s why culture competency requires developing essential workplace skills that require practice over time. Sure, some people may be more intuitive than others. But even if you intuitively have the right approach, it’s not the same as intentionally developing these skills and consciously putting them into use each day.

When we work with others, it's our job to develop our workplace respect, inclusion, and ethics skills so each one of us can actively create a healthier workplace culture. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing my perspective on how to build your own culture competency or set of workplace skills, and which sensitive workplace situations are good practice to develop these essential skills.