Sexual harassment training is required by many jurisdictions across the United States. Seeing as the topic is a very sensitive one, though, actually ensuring that this is done correctly can be quite difficult. That is without even mentioning how difficult it can be to get employees to take it seriously.
It is a serious matter and should absolutely be approached as such. As you can see from resources like this website, harassment is a pervasive issue in America. Far too many people experience it each year, and it is only through prevention and training that we can finally start to reduce these statistics. That is easier said than done.
Why Training is Key in the First Place
Workplace culture is a huge factor in employee retention, even if we do not think that is the case. Cultivating one that is safe and secure is one of the reasons that implementing this type of training is so tantamount. Remember – makes the workspace a lot safer for everyone involved.
This includes the company itself, really. By offering courses like this, you protect yourself from potential negligence lawsuits or other legal situations. While that should not be the primary motivation (which I would hope would be the former one), it is still something to take note of.
How to Approach it in a Sensitive Manner
We can never truly know what our employees have gone through in the past. There is always a chance that a session could trigger certain memories or a reaction from your workers. Avoiding that should be a goal, at least when it is possible. How can we do that, though?
Providing trigger warnings never hurts. Ideally, your employees feel comfortable enough to inform you if they cannot attend such a discussion because of their own mental health in relation to past situations. However, even if that does not happen, we should be cognizant of the fact that anyone in the room could have gone through this.
When implementing workplace harassment training, we should screen all materials for images that could cause undue stress. Thankfully, most programs that have already been created for these purposes do not contain them. I like to mention it anyway, though, just in case. There is never a one-hundred-percent certainty.
Additionally, consider your tone of voice when presenting the information. Always be sure to express empathy for victims of sexual harassment (or any type of harassment that could occur in the workplace). Belittling the victims or demonstrating that you do not respect the importance of the issue is definitely not the right way to approach it.
If any of your employees scoff or find it ridiculous that they have to sit through a session, make sure that you quash that quickly. Your stance should be firm. Zero-tolerance towards harassment is the best policy, there.
Other Tips and Tricks
Now that you have some perspective on how to approach a program like this, what are some other things to keep in mind? This can vary depending on how you decide to launch the course. When done in person, by someone from your own team, you should remember the common conventions of presentations. You can find some here: https://libguides.coloradomesa.edu/SSpresenting2016/conventions.
Make the session a productive and engaging one to keep your audience invested in the topic. Fact-check everything that you present, especially when it comes to statistics. Do not be afraid to cite your sources as well, just in case there are doubters amongst the attendees! With strong messaging, everything should go relatively smoothly.
That is not the only way to approach this, though. Some employers prefer to utilize online programming from a third-party organization rather than presenting it themselves. Virtual courses are certainly much more convenient and can be done without taking valuable time out of the workday. Just know that this does make it easier for your workers to skip out on it (depending on the program).
Problems like that one can be circumvented relatively easily, though. If the company that you are working with for this has an activity tracker with the course, that can be a real asset. Quizzing on the important parts of the training session can also be a tool to utilize.
At the end of the day, though, the most critical aspect to this is to approach it with tact. Remember that there are real victims, and some may be in your office (from prior job experiences). Remind your workers that you are there as a resource to talk to if they need, especially if it comes to reporting an incident.
Finally, do not forget to familiarize yourself with the material as well. Everyone in the company should hopefully at least read over the training session to see what is being taught, after all.