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Preventing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: What You Need to Protect Your Business

people sitting in a circle on chairs

Did you know that federal law in the United States requires employers to provide mandatory sexual harassment prevention training for employees? Not only will providing the training help prevent abusive conduct in the workplace, it will also protect your company from lawsuits.

Plus, a growing number of smart company leaders realize that training to help prevent sexual harassment delivers additional benefits that include higher levels of employee satisfaction, better retention, and the ability to attract better job applicants.

Yet most companies neglect those realities. They offer the required training only grudgingly, or not at all. They are taking an immense legal risk, fostering a potentially hostile environment, and are probably losing good employees, too.

A Reality Check

It’s nice to think that this could never happen in your company, but it happens in more companies than you expect. And it is naive as business leaders to believe that your company is immune. If you are not giving training that covers sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention, you will lose key people. Even though that reality might not get reported, if a current or former employee brings charges against you and there is a lawsuit, you will be at risk for massive punitive damages if you have not properly given and documented training.

First, You Need Training

Based on Federal and state regulations, you’re required to provide sexual harassment training to all your employees. Some states have specific laws that require it to be done in a certain way.

It is true that if someone brings legal action against your organization, you will be in a stronger position to defend your company if you have required all supervisors and other employees to complete training that covers sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention. That alone should convince you to invest in it.

Second, Training Provides Your Organization with Much More than Just Legal Protection

Yet there are many more reasons why requiring all your employees to take sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training pays you back:

  • You demonstrate to your employees that you care about their wellbeing and security. You are doing more than just saying that you care about them, you are putting your good intentions into action by investing in a healthier and happier workplace.
  • You enhance your ability to recruit new employees, because you become known as a more enlightened and modern place to work. When you explain to potential new employees that you have no tolerance for harassing or abusive behaviors, you become an employer of choice – an enterprise where people want to work.
  • You discourage potential harassers and take a proactive step toward building a happier and more secure workplace, because your training will alert them to specific behaviors, words, and attitudes they should avoid. Please be aware that not all sexual harassers set out to harass or threaten others. Some are simply unaware of certain attitudes, words and behaviors that create an environment that is threatening or offensive to others. Your training can raise their consciousness about what they should, and should not, do.

What Should Be Included in Your Sexual Harassment Training?

Quality sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training should be engaging, interactive and scenario-based. It is important for the learner to have proper context in a way that is effective for adult learning, as well as to understand what words and behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable.

Given the time requirements are generally one hour for an employee and two hours for a manager a year, boring training is ineffective. Using eLearning for sexual harassment training, if done well, is an effective way to train your whole staff. And as you hire new people you can train them one at a time.

In that way you will not only be training everyone, but you will also be documenting that training has taken place.


Ready to Create a Safer, Happier, More Enlighted Workplace?

Talk to a Tortal learning expert today about the Tortal Learning Library courses on Sexual Harassment and Abusive Conduct Prevention training. It’s available for both managers/supervisors and employees, and it’s valid in all 50 states and covers state specific law requirements from California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine and New York.