Redouble Harassment Prevention with 3 New Practices

Yesterday’s Leadership Daily Advisor reported the latest recommendations of an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) task force on strengthening  antiharassment strategies in the workplace. Today, we look at three new twists on training that may enhance overall antiharassment efforts.

Given the amount of resources employers devote to training—and that employee training is one of the main methods used to prevent harassment—the agency found that some forms of training have better outcomes than others. In particular, it suggests that training, on its own, may not be the most effective tool to prevent workplace harassment.

In fact, the agency believes that too much of the effort and training to prevent workplace harassment over the past 30 years has been focused solely on avoiding legal liability.

Compliance, Civility, Intervention

So, what’s the solution? Training shouldn’t be done in a vacuum. It should augment leadership commitment and accountability. To do that, the EEOC report recommends three specific types of training:

Compliance training. This doesn’t only mean compliance with the law, but it also includes teaching employees to comply with the rules regarding unacceptable behavior in the workplace regardless of whether that behavior would legally constitute “harassment.” This training also doesn’t focus on changing employees’ beliefs; it focuses on changing their behavior.

Civility training. Creating a culture that’s rooted in civility could go a long way in ensuring a workplace free of harassment, notes Chai R. Feldblum, an EEOC commissioner and cochair of the agency’s Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace. The aim is to train employees on the kinds of behavior that foster a civil, respectful, and dignified workplace—without regard to any protected characteristic under the law.

Bystander intervention training. This concept teaches employees what they can do to prevent or help correct offensive behavior, even if they’re not in management or Human Resources and don’t have a responsibility to intervene.

“Bystander intervention training can create a sense of collective responsibility on the part of workers and empower them to be engaged bystanders in preventing harassment,” explains Feldblum. “With leadership support, bystander intervention training could be a game changer in the workplace.”