The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements are shining a spotlight on the importance of creating respectful, harassment-free workplaces. For many organizations, this means rethinking how online compliance training can play a more active role in preventing misconduct and promoting ethical cultures.
No longer just another check-the-box item, compliance training can be a valuable asset to HR professionals and their organizations by providing a flexible platform for:
- Teaching employees how to spot challenging workplace issues and respond appropriately
- Communicating and reinforcing an organization’s core values, beliefs, and code of conduct
- Updating managers and staff on how relevant laws and regulations apply to their work
Just as senior management plays a critical role in shaping and sustaining organizational culture, online compliance training can be a strategic tool for HR and management teams in the following ways:
1. Improve and Strengthen Organizational Culture
According to Portland State University business faculty Talya Bauer and Berrin Erdogan, organizational culture is defined as “a system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs that show employees what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior. These values have a strong influence on employee behavior as well as organizational performance.”
Research from CEB backs up this claim, finding that employees from strong cultures of integrity are more likely to over-perform on individual and team goals. The research also found that organizations with strong cultures of integrity have higher shareholder returns than organizations with low perceptions of integrity.
Online compliance training can strengthen an organization’s culture — and drive positive business results — by communicating its values, goals, and policies in creative ways that motivate individuals to act ethically while protecting the organization and its reputation.
For example, a code of conduct training course that uses interactive video stories can have a positive influence on behavior by immersing learners in realistic situations that challenge them to make tough decisions, then revealing how those decisions and actions have consequences.
2. Foster Workplace Respect and Civility
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), training employees and supervisors on how to maintain respectful workplaces can reduce workplace harassment and rude, abusive behavior. When the EEOC launched its own training program on creating respectful workplaces, Commissioner Chai Feldblum said, “We know that workplace incivility often acts as a ‘gateway drug’ to workplace harassment.”
By incorporating eLearning technologies and strategies, anti-harassment training can turn concepts like respect and civility into dynamic learning experiences that promote positive employee behavior and reinforce an organization’s respectful workplace policy. Compliance training can also encourage workplace respect and civility by teaching employees how to proactively intervene when they observe unacceptable behavior. The EEOC says that with the support of leadership, bystander intervention training could be a game-changer in preventing workplace harassment.
Creating a respectful, harassment-free culture is an ongoing process that requires the participation of senior leaders, HR departments, and employees at every level. One of the most effective ways online compliance training can do its part is by clarifying ethical gray areas and promoting positive employee behavior. Training can demonstrate in authentic ways how an individual’s words and actions can contribute to a positive, respectful workplace — or perpetuate a hostile environment that leads to harassment claims and damages the organization’s reputation and bottom line.
Jeffrey Frankel is the vice president of marketing for Traliant.