As the professional reliance on digital platforms expands due to the continuation of remote work, human resources services and training have also adapted to virtual formats as necessary. Counsel LaKeisha M.A. Caton discussed points of consideration for optimized training with Law360 in a recent publication. According to Law360:
To boost the interactivity component of a virtual training, LaKeisha M.A. Caton of Pryor Cashman LLP suggested techniques like starting a training session by seeking feedback about a hypothetical scenario and making use of polls, Q&As and breakout room features on platforms like Zoom to spark discussions that keep audiences engaged with presenters and each other.
"I think it's particularly difficult now more than before to keep people's attention because there are just so many distractions now when people are working from home," Caton said. "Also it's hard to tell sometimes if you're keeping people's attention because of the way the training is set up, that you can't actually see your audience so you can't tell how they're responding to what you're saying."
"My advice is to use all of those functions as much as possible. Allow your audience to ask questions and make comments throughout your presentation and address their questions and comments throughout the presentation," Caton added.
One element that can sink the efficacy of workplace anti-harassment training, whether held virtually or in person, is if it lingers too long on legal requirements and gives short shrift to practical examples that are helpful to workers, according to Caton. She said training "can sometimes focus too much on preventing liability" and not enough on what harassment in the workplace really looks like.
"So for example your employees will be able to walk away knowing the definition of sexual harassment and knowing what constitutes sexual harassment, but they won't necessarily be able to recognize different forms of sexual harassment," Caton said. "Especially, more subtler forms of sexual harassment in their everyday work lives."
Caton said a better approach is mixing discussions about liability with real-world examples of improper behavior and trying to make the training as relatable as possible for participants.
While employers who conduct anti-harassment training want to instruct their entire workforce, there can be issues that apply specifically to managers that warrant special attention. It behooves employers to consider separating the training supervisors receive from what is aimed at rank-and-file employees.
By taking that approach, the manager group can delve more deeply into issues surrounding supervisor liability for misconduct or situations that apply only to supervisors, while rank-and-file employees may feel more at ease asking questions without their managers being in the room, according to Caton.
"I would recommend that you have two separate trainings if [employers] can do that," Caton said. "That, I think, would allow lower-level employees to feel more comfortable asking certain questions or bringing up certain situations because they'll feel less [stress], I believe, if their supervisors aren't present in the training."
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Originally published in Law360
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