6 Strategies to Maximize Participation in Your Harassment Prevention Program
To maximize impact and effectiveness of harassment prevention—and of course, to ensure compliance with many state mandates that require anti-harassment training for all employees—it is critical to implement harassment prevention programming organization-wide, from individual contributors to supervisors to executives.
While harassment prevention training can—and very often should—be tailored to the unique obligations and perspectives of managers versus non-managers, it is critical that all employees at all levels:
(a) receive harassment prevention training in the skills needed to identify and address the warning signs of harassment;
(b) understand their individual role in maintaining a healthy workplace culture; and
(c) hear strong messages from top leaders about their commitment to preventing harassment at work.
Ideally, this harassment prevention program or training would be provided to all employees both when they are hired and on a regular, ongoing basis thereafter to sustain positive impact and mitigate risk.
Harassment prevention programs should be mandatory for all employees at all levels of the organization (again, in some jurisdictions this is required by law, but even if it is not, it is certainly a best practice). Our research has shown that the majority of people hold healthy attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs and want to take positive steps to be a part of a healthy workplace community and culture. Unfortunately, there also exists a minority of employees that are unlikely to engage with harassment prevention training unless required to do so. Mandated workplace training ensures that everyone receives similar education and messages on these critical issues. It also signals to a workforce that harassment prevention is an organization-wide priority. For this reason, it is particularly critical that company executives and other leaders are required to attend and complete harassment prevention training.
So what are some ways to do this?
6 Strategies to Maximize Participation in Your Organization’s Harassment Prevention Program
- Rewards or incentives for timely participation
- Reminders generated by an online training system
- General or 1:1 communications from senior leadership, a manager, or department representative (can be repeated)
- Company leader (CEO or agency head, for example) reviewing department completion reports at executive team meetings and holding leaders accountable for completion by their teams
- Loss of access to one or more company systems for individual non-participation
- Impact on performance rating/review for non-participation
While both “carrots” and “sticks” can be effective, and while some employees may ultimately only respond to the possibility of a negative consequence, it is recommended that organizations don’t solely rely on punitive actions to motivate employee participation in their harassment prevention program. Positively-framed messages that tie training to the organization’s values, and indicate leadership’s commitment to harassment prevention training and to engaging all employees in creating a safe, respectful environment they all want to work in, can be particularly impactful.
When communicating with leaders specifically, one can position harassment prevention training as an investment that helps build organizational trust, employee engagement, and ultimately, productivity. Whether implementing a wide array of tactics or focusing on one or two, an organization that uses any of these methods is communicating that participation in its harassment prevention program is an organizational priority. And keep track of what seems to be working best to drive engagement at your workplace so you can refine your approach over time.