Josh Young

In a global marketplace where products and services are easily replicable, your company culture is one of your businesses’ few unique identifiers. Your culture communicates your organization’s shared beliefs and values, dictating how your employees interact with customers and each other.

A toxic culture can lead to high employee turnover, poorer health outcomes, and can quickly sour your company’s reputation, while a positive culture, meanwhile, encourages productivity and loyalty.

Among the most critical times to set the tone for your organization’s culture:  the onboarding process for new hires. By including these trainings into a new employee onboarding checklist, you can promote positive behavior, often preventing problems before they occur.

1. Harassment prevention training

Along with a renewed interest in sexual harassment prevention—no doubt thanks in great part to the #MeToo movement—has come a slew of best practices and policies designed to stop the deeply destructive social practice in its tracks.

A host of previously unaddressed factors have entrenched it into our workplaces. Currently, around 81 percent of women have experienced harassment while three-quarters of incidents go unreported. This is likely due in part to the well-observed practice of retaliation, which impacts the majority of victims who come forward.

Harassment and discrimination training is critical—not only for your management staff—but for all employees. Effective training can help prevent harassment before it occurs and empower all to resolve and escalate incidents responsibly.

2. Diversity and inclusion training

Companies the world over are increasingly expected to hire a truly diverse workplace.

What’s more, workplace diversity is a critical component of success. Research suggests that racially and ethnically diverse companies are 35 percent more likely to outperform industry averages, meanwhile gender-diverse businesses hold a 15 percent advantage. Other studies indicate that customers are more comfortable making purchases from businesses that reflect the demographics of their community.

Of course, as your employees become more diverse, your workplace’s cultural complexity grows, leading our unconscious biases to unintentionally exclude and dismiss others. By taking advantage of diversity and inclusion training, you can create a culture of respect that will help staff more effectively communicate across cultural boundaries.

3. Code of conduct training

The true purpose of code of conduct policies are often lost on stakeholders outside of HR and compliance roles. Instead of merely establishing a codified set of rules, such policies are meant to align an entire workforce around common goals, giving them the perspective and context they need to behave ethically in the workplace.

After all, your employees’ ethics and behavior have a direct impact on your company’s reputation with customers, partners, and regulators. From the first day of employment, you want to make it clear what kinds of behavior and language that are—and are not—appropriate.

However, to cement your companies values in your employees everyday actions, you’ll need to explore the circumstances your employees will find themselves in, and reinforce appropriate responses.

Not only will code of conduct training help avoid unintended ethical or policy violations, organizations that actively inform their employees of legal and ethical obligations are more likely to receive leniency in regulatory review, according to sentencing guidelines outlined by the United States Sentencing Commission.

The Relationship Between Positive Culture and Corporate Reputation

Efforts to protect reputations fail when compliance programs don't address ethical issues on a cultural level.

4. Abusive conduct and anti-bullying training

Many recent workplace trends have the #MeToo movement to thank for their popularity. Chief among them is a renewed interest in a particular kind of workplace misconduct; one that doesn’t rise to the heights of harassment, but nevertheless cause great discomfort, lowered morale, and reduced productivity: bullying.

Workplace bullying lacks a legal definition, but it’s defined by UK workplace relationship consultancy Acas as, “Offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behavior, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the person being bullied.” Somewhere between 15 and 19 percent of employed adults report being bullied at work. Approximately 60 percent of the victims are female, 70 percent of the perpetrators are male, and 61 percent of bullying perpetrators are in management roles.

Its impact is enormous: bullying costs companies about $14,000 in per-employee job performance each year while victims experience depression, panic attacks, insomnia, and post-traumatic stress disorder, in many cases.

Workplace bullying training—which is sometimes paired with workplace violence training—defines key terms necessary to understand bullying behavior, like unlawful harassment and inappropriate workplace aggression, and gives them the tools necessary to de-escalate tense situations.

5. Anti-corruption training

In 2010, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) began to more aggressively prosecute incidents of foreign bribery and corruption.

Under current guidelines, your business can even be held criminally liable for bribery conducted by third party vendors or suppliers — as long as your employees “know” that the funds are being used illegally.

To discourage corruption and better protect your business, anti-corruption training should be a priority during orientation. By clearly outlining corporate policy for gifts and entertainment, and by encouraging staff to be on the lookout for potential conflicts of interest, your business can better prevent violations before they occur.

Further, both the DOJ and the SEC have stated that during investigations they will “give meaningful credit to a company that implements in good faith a comprehensive, risk-based compliance program.”

6. Security awareness training

While employees may at first ignore your pleas to shore up their password game, it’s becoming increasingly hard to ignore the risks inherent in sub-par data security practices.

A survey of 601 cybersecurity professionals found that 55 percent of the companies represented in the survey had already experienced a security incident caused by either a negligent or malicious employee. And a separate study of 887 companies across 30 countries identified “employee error” as the root cause of 30 percent of data breaches.

With data security and privacy training, you can make it clear to all of your staff the critical role they play in keeping your business, data, and customers safe.

7. Workplace violence training

When you think of workplace violence, you picture a recently laid off, disgruntled worker taking out pent-up workplace-related rage on their coworkers and supervisors. That stereotype doesn’t hold muster in light of the available data, though. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the majority of victims of workplace violence don’t know the assailant (Though a plurality of work-related homicides that occur to women are committed by domestic partners or relatives).

Workplace violence training teaches learners how to respond to workplace violence, understand warning signs, the influence of rejection as an impetus for violence.

Such training is especially important for industries with direct contact to the public, as 26 percent of victims of workplace homicide work in sales or retail. Moreover, employers based in the US would benefit from addressing what’s becoming a growing fear of random acts of violence. The frequent occurrence of large-scale violence committed by individuals.

A comprehensive compliance training program for your new employees will help to mitigate potential legal risks and create a more civil, enjoyable workplace for all of your staff. By establishing clear employee expectations from the first day, you can better manage company culture and give your new hires the tools to succeed.