Emtrain Blog

Patti Perez Helps Create New DFEH Workplace Harassment Guide

Some exciting news for Emtrain’s Workplace Harassment Expert and Ogletree Deakins shareholder, Patti Perez. 

Patti has recently been working meticulously with the California Task Force to create an updated version of the DFEH Workplace Harassment Guide for the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. This is an information sheet that is most often searched and distributed to employees to fulfill the need for all relevant forms of workplace harassment.

The updated guide includes varying ways on how to prevent harassment, report harassment and at what point disciplinary measures might need to be pursued. Also mentioned are helpful tips on what to include in your harassment training programs and additional steps to make effective training at the top of your list as an employer.

Along with common questions and concerns about workplace harassment cases are proceeding steps for effective remedial situations. It is critical to the health and well-being of your organization to communicate workplace harassment issues and implement a training program that is trusted and compliant.

We continue to work closely with Patti, as an Emtrain Workplace Harassment Expert, to make our harassment training not only compliant but engaging as well. Request a free trial of our Preventing Workplace Harassment course today!

Three Ways to Make Sure Your Online Training Program Hits the Mark

More than ever, company leaders are being asked to step up efforts to prevent harassment and other workplace misconduct. Many leaders in HR, talent, training, diversity and legal departments have wondered whether designing a robust training program will help them with their prevention efforts. This is especially true given recent news stories that say online harassment training hasn’t proven effective. Digging deeper into the data and research on this topic, what is clear is that poorly designed and poorly executed training is ineffective; so the secret is to find training that is actually effective.

What are some of the issues you should look for when deciding whether to provide training? And if you do decide to provide it, how do you decide they type and content for the training? 

Some companies opt for live training, either designed and delivered by an in-house professional or by an outside consultant.  For other companies, it isn’t realistic to train their workforce via live training, so the question then becomes can online harassment training be effective? Can online harassment training programs be designed and delivered in such a way that it not only maximizes learning, but also creates behavior change? The answer to both these questions is yes - but you need to make sure you explore at least three issues before you select an online training provider.

  1. Is the training designed by subject matter experts who combine legal and realistic workplace concepts, along with behavioral science research, innovative training techniques and present it in a compelling and entertaining way?
  2. Legal requirements and social science research makes it clear that interactivity is a key component to effective training. Given that, ask yourself whether the online training solution you’re considering incorporates methods to make online training as interactive as possible.
  3. Does the training solution make use of the most modern engineering platforms so that it allows you to track activity, and use that data to make changes that will improve your workplace?

Make Sure the Training is Designed by Subject Matter Experts

Too many online harassment training solutions have been designed by professionals with no experience in preventing and solving workplace issues. For those of us in the world of HR, D&I, talent management, employee relations, or employment law, we know that ours is a world of nuance and requires a combination of subject matter expertise, compassion, experience with the realities of the workplace, knowledge of legal compliance issues and an expertise in wordsmithing, to name a few.

When you are selecting an online training vendor, you should ask who developed the courses. Are the developers experts in all the areas mentioned above? Have they written and enforced workplace policies? Have they conducted investigations and crafted creative and effective solutions when an investigation uncovers misconduct? Has the person (or people) conducted live training programs? Are they equipped to answer questions from learners?

Interactivity is a Key Component of Effectiveness

When I sat on the California Fair Employment and Housing Council, we were confronted with the challenge of defining interactivity. In the context of live training, any good training session conducted by an experienced and professional presenter, would by definition include interaction - between student and teacher, and among the students themselves. But our challenge was to define how an online training program could achieve this same level of interaction. We developed rules on that that provide mandatory guidance in California, and can serve as best practices even beyond compliance - after all, the purpose of requiring interaction is to increase learning and behavior change. Here are three ways in which we defined interactivity:

  • A “plug-and-play” program doesn’t cut it. The online training solution you choose must include a way for learners to advance through sections, answer questions, view videos in their entirety and generally stay engaged throughout the training program.

  • Because dialogue is critical to meaningful interaction, highly visible question and answer sections allow learners to dive deep into areas they need more clarification on. And remember that the subject matter experts described in the section above must be available to answer these questions and should provide practical guidance - without that, the Q&A is unhelpful.

  • Polling question results, Q&A and other tools should be visible since this increases interaction among learners. As a way of replicating the interaction that occurs at live training sessions, the most sophisticated and effective online training programs have the Q&A in a public place for all learners to view. Learners have reported that having the Q&A visible allows them to get questions they might have (but might be too afraid to ask) answered, makes them feel connected to other learners who might be experiencing similar concerns, and allows them to get practical and actionable advice that they can then use to make immediate improvements in their workplaces.

Make Maximum Use of Data Collected During Training to Make Further Improvements

You should select an online harassment training provider that includes an experienced team of engineers who have designed a program that is useful on the front end and back end. On the front end, is the user experience one that will resonate with a modern audience? Does the material flow well and is there a mechanism to capture engagement on the platform? On the back end, ask whether data is provided to identify trending concerns (are your learners primarily concerned about retaliation in your workplace? With a lack of diversity? With the investigation and resolution mechanisms at your company?). Your ability to identify these potential blind spots will not only put you in the best position to solve problems early, but will also give you a roadmap on topics to focus on (do you need new policies, perhaps a lunch and learn session on a particular topic, to include a new topic at an executive retreat, etc.?).

By looking at these three critical issues, you’ll be on your way to deploying an online training program that will move the needle when it comes to behavior, and that will put you at the to of the list as employer of choice.

Additional resources

There are additional aspects that must be incorporated into an online training program to be truly effective. If you’d like to watch or share a quick video on the topic, watch my new video Online Harassment Training - Effective for #TimesUp? and get tips and recommendations on how to ensure any online training programs you invest in are going to be effective and deliver positive behavioral changes.

If your organization would benefit from guidance and support to create an effective online training program, contact us at info@emtrain.com or call 1-800-242-6099. You can also sign up for a free sexual harassment prevention course trial to see for yourself what effective, impactful training looks like.

People Skills Require A Shared Workplace Language

People often believe they have all the knowledge and skills they need to navigate the workplace without conflict … as long as they are a “nice” person. But here’s the deal… other than a few bad eggs… most people are “nice.” That doesn’t mean we understand people and can make the right “people” choices in the moment. People are complicated, which is reflected by the large market of therapists: marital counselors, family counselors, life coaches, etc. Work relationships are often just as impactful as family and romantic relationships, and just like those relationships, they require knowledge and practice to build strong “people” skills, essential when a person wants to support a healthy organization, aka, be a workplace culture keeper. 

Problems arise when you don’t have the knowledge and skills to be a workplace culture keeper, and harassment is one of the biggest problems. But again, people are generally “nice” even when they’re acting in a way that another person perceives as harassing. How is that possible? It’s possible because people generally lack the skills and experience to navigate people issues and can end up disrespecting or offending someone without the intent to do so.

Not all unprofessional behavior constitutes illegal harassment

Our general lack of people skills is exacerbated by the fact that people are not precise when they communicate. People use the term “sexual harassment” to mean all sorts of situations - from managers pressuring subordinates for sex to comments/jokes that reference sex or gender to co-workers or managers that are just plain rude. These are three very different situations, but people use one term to describe all three. That’s neither precise nor good communication.  

Further, calling a situation “sexual harassment” or calling a person a “sexual harasser” is an alarming critique that leads to people getting their backs up; increased emotions; adversarial entrenched positions and circling the wagons to fight claims -- it does not lead to behavior change.  

A shared language provides a platform for understanding

So how do we achieve behavior change? We achieve behavior change through upleveling our knowledge and skills about people issues; using a shared, more precise workplace language so people are using one term to mean a specific type of situation; and lastly, using the shared workplace language in an objective, de-personalized way so feedback about behavior or situations doesn’t trigger emotional responses - it triggers behavior change.

Between Patti Perez (our VP of Workplace Strategy) and myself, we have about 50 years of addressing and solving sexual harassment and bias problems in the workplace. We know what works and what doesn’t. That’s why we created the Workplace Color Spectrum™ to serve as a shared workplace language so a young woman doesn’t have to tell an older male boss he’s a harasser when he keeps touching her back while they walk or he asks about her romantic life or he seems to find opportunities to give her a hug. The guy might be a well meaning space cadet… just ask Patti and I and we can tell you about the hundreds of thousands of well meaning space cadets in our workplaces.  But is the 30-year-old woman really going to tell the 50 year old man he’s a harasser?  NO!  Get real.  But if the organization embraces the Workplace Color Spectrum™ as a shared enterprise language to provide objective feedback on people actions, then the 30-year-old woman may tell her 50-year-old boss he’s a bit in the “orange” that day. If both people understand orange to mean slightly borderline or risky behavior, he’ll get the hint and appreciate the course correction before he creates a workplace problem. Watch our explainer video on The Workplace Color Spectrum™.

It’s naive to think “nice” people intuitively understand people and how to navigate complicated people situations. Working with people requires people skills and skills stem from knowledge and experience. Along with people skills, using a shared workplace language such as the Workplace Color Spectrum™ helps people communicate with precision, in an objective way that avoids conflicts all while changing workplace behavior.

If your organization would benefit from harassment prevention training, request a free course trial today from Emtrain, the CultureTech leader in creating healthy workplace cultures. 

Is Bad Training Worse Than No Training?

Post-#MeToo, employers are more confused than ever about whether to provide harassment prevention training. Does it work? Is it a good investment? Will it actually move the needle as it relates to achieving a better understanding of the issues and positively affecting behavior at work? 

Research and experience tells us that the answer to all these questions is YES. But there is a caveat. We know that bad training is bad…so what are some of the steps employers can take to make their training effective?

I recently covered this very topic at this year’s national SHRM conference in Chicago and this article provides an excellent summary of steps to take to maximize the value of your training.

Here are a few more tips:

  1. The research is clear: training that focuses only on legal compliance and on what NOT to do (in other words, fear-based training) is not only ineffective, it can have a backlash effect. If your goal is to scare your employees and leaders into behaving respectfully, you need to reassess those goals. Instead, focus on then positive - what behavior do you expect from your employees? What are the positive consequences to a workplace culture that focuses on clear communication and positive interactions? The more you give your employees a “what’s in it for me” message, the more likely the message will stick.
  2. Carefully select your trainer (for live training) and your training vendor (for online training). The key is to make sure the training is designed and delivered by a true subject matter expert. And while having an understanding of underlying legal principles is important, it isn’t enough. The expert must also have experience drafting and implementing policies, conducting investigations, and doing work to prevent and resolve workplace conflict, including harassment issues. A professional with this experience will do more than check the legal compliance boxes necessary for mandatory training…they will also provide the nuanced and perspective-changing examples that are necessary for a successful training program.
  3. All training, live or online, must be interactive. My presentation provided participants with several examples of interactive activities I use that truly engage the audience, and serve to highlight important learning lessons. One idea is to use a game or activity…I use one called “Two Truths and a Lie” (or some variation). In this activity, you write three nuanced statements and have participants identify which two are true, and which one is false - and you ask them to provide an explanation as to WHY the statement is true or false. I also reach into my bucket of stories about investigations. I give participants a brief description of the facts from an investigation and give learners a multiple choice “test” to see if they can guess what happens next. This one really sparks conversation and interactivity!

The key is to have a goal in mind, plan intentionally, be creative and have fun. By using this “formula” you’ll not only educate your employees about acceptable and unacceptable behavior, you’ll also make a usually-dreaded event become one they look forward to attending. For even more insight into creating effective training, check out this video that outlines the most effective online training approaches, and discusses how to develop and deploy training that will really create positive organizational change.

4 Interesting Aspects of New York’s New Harassment Prevention Laws

4 Interesting Aspects of New York’s New Harassment Prevention LawsThe new New York State and New York City laws on sexual harassment prevention are the broadest of their kind. Here are some of their unique aspects, and our thoughts on why they matter.

Train Everyone

New York State mandates sexual harassment prevention training for all New York employees. New York City goes so far as to say that, for employers with 15 or more employees, even interns should receive training. We’re wholeheartedly behind the concept of training everyone. When everyone understands what sexual harassment is and how to prevent it, awareness and accountability spread, and there are fewer opportunities for incidents to occur or escalate.

Interactive Training

The New York State and New York City laws both reference interactive training, and it’s also a key element of the California harassment training regulations. Trainings may be considered interactive if the include audio-visuals and enable trainer-trainee interaction, whether they’re trainings done in person or online. Generally, lawmakers are looking for trainings that are more engaging for the learner. We believe that interactive training techniques help keep the learners’ attention and help the learner retain the information they’ve been taught.

Training Frequency

Annual training is a hallmark of both the NY State and NY City law. New York will be the first state to require yearly sexual harassment training. Given the harassment epidemic that the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have brought to light, annual training seems entirely reasonable.

Bystander Training

From a content perspective, the most interesting aspect of the New York City law is the requirement for harassment prevention to include bystander training. This speaks to the noble and practical intentions of the NY City legislature in truly trying to solve the problem. Bystander training helps teach how one should respond when you see something inappropriate happen. Here’s one of our micro-lessons that briefly walks through that all too common issue.

What to do when you see something inappropriate at work?

What to do when you see something inappropriate at work?

The Emtrain team is here to help you sort through the requirements that begin under New York State law, which goes into effect on October 9, 2018, and under the New York City law which goes into effect on April 1, 2019. Contact us for more information.