August 25, 2022

As your organization grows, providing practical harassment training is essential to maintaining a safe, healthy, and productive workplace culture. But this is easier said than done! 

Harassment is an umbrella covering many sensitive topics. You may also need to comply with specific laws regarding your anti-harassment training program. And if you don’t have qualified HR professionals to deliver this training, you could put your business at risk. 

That’s why many companies looking to outsource HR start by focusing on workplace harassment prevention. A third-party partner can ensure you meet all the legal requirements and organize thorough, regular training that resonates with every employee. 

Read on to learn why you should outsource harassment training and nine critical mistakes you’ll avoid when you do!

Why Outsource Harassment Training

When and why should you outsource your company’s harassment training? First of all, there may be laws and regulations you’re unfamiliar with. An HR consultant with experience in this area will tell you which you’re subject to and ensure your company complies with government regulations, including: 

  • Employment laws: Harassment, discrimination, and equal opportunity
  • Safety and environmental laws: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Department of Transportation (DOT), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • State regulations: Your state may mandate specific harassment training.

Outsourcing harassment training is also a wise and cost-effective decision if you:

  • Have a small team and limited or no qualified harassment training providers.
  • Have a large, fast-growing team—it’s an easy way to train new hires and keep your current staff trained.
  • Need to keep employees trained on current issues and trends in your industry.

9 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Harassment Training

1. Unrealistic Scenarios

Many business leaders who run their own anti-harassment training come up with far-fetched scenarios. But extreme examples of harassment won’t be taken seriously and will only insult your employees. It can even come off as if you’re minimizing issues between your team members and their concerns. 

Effective training doesn’t simply tell them what to do or focus solely on liability. It employs real-life, tangible situations that employees can relate to. 

2. Asking Participants to Draw Legal Conclusions

Some organizations make a risky mistake by proposing workplace harassment scenarios and asking employees to draw legal conclusions. If you do, it could be used against your organization in a lawsuit if a team member commits harassing behavior as defined in a previous training session.

The best practice is to stick to discussing the scenarios and how to identify, report, and address instances of misconduct. 

3. Extreme Policies & Rules

Some inexperienced trainers or business owners may try to establish too extreme rules that could end up costing the organization. For example, stating that discussing any personal matters in the workplace is off-limits could blow back on your business if you are sued. 

While management may mean well, attempting to make rules that are too strict will cause employees not to take the training seriously. And we all know that controlling, strict policies only result in a negative work environment.

4. Covering Only Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment should, of course, be an essential segment of your harassment training program. But it shouldn’t be the ONLY session! Inappropriate behavior comes in many forms, including discrimination and bullying. Your workplace harassment training should cover misconduct regarding:

  • Gender
  • Race
  • National origin
  • Color
  • Disability
  • Age
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation
  • Other protected categories according to your state laws

Your HR firm will develop a comprehensive harassment program that addresses each of these so that everyone is educated and prepared to deal with all types of harassment.

5. Blanket Training

Many employers provide one training for the entire company, including leadership and rank-and-file employees. This is a big miss because each group needs specific information and guidance!

All employees should understand:

  • The company’s anti-harassment commitment and policy
  • How to report harassment
  • That they have a responsibility to report misconduct they witness, even if they’re not the victims
  • Protections against retaliation
  • Acceptable workplace behavior and conduct

Meanwhile, managers need to know how to:

  • Respond when they receive a harassment complaint or witness harassment 
  • Report the issue to HR 
  • Prevent and address retaliation 
  • Follow up with the complainant after a report and workplace investigation
  • Proceed legally and prevent further risks and misconduct

Harassment prevention training is most effective when tailored separately for general employees and executives/managers. 

6. Too Much Legal Speak

Your harassment training doesn’t need to dive into the gritty legal details. Just focus on the essentials, including:

  • A definition of what harassment is and is not
  • How to report harassment and discrimination
  • Maintaining a safe, harassment-free workplace

For managers, you should cover a bit more (see above), including legal interviewing, hiring, promotion, and performance management practices. Supervisors should understand how to avoid discrimination and create an inclusive, welcoming culture.

7. Not Engaging Leaders

Unfortunately, business leaders often do not prioritize harassment training, so they skip it, only attend part of it, or send someone in their place. But when you outsource harassment training to an experienced, entertaining HR professional, you can avoid this problem. 

They’ll know how to create a program that grabs leadership’s attention and drives the most crucial points home. Thanks to their expertise, HR firms can get creative with even serious topics like harassment by using interactive methods (e.g., role-playing) to generate energy and participation.

8. Skipping Your Anti-harassment Policy & Procedure

It’s all well and good to discuss harassment laws, but what about your company’s policies and procedures? Employees must understand the expectations set for them and acknowledge your anti-harassment policy. This could play a crucial role in the event of a workplace investigation (when you have to determine if the harassment did occur) or lawsuit.

Harassment training should cover your organization’s:

  • Reporting procedures
  • Investigation process and timelines
  • Efforts to maintain safety and privacy during investigation and litigation
  • Zero-tolerance retaliation policy

9. Making Training a One-time Event

Employers must make harassment prevention training a regular, ongoing occurrence—not a one-off or yearly event. The definitions of acceptable workplace behavior are constantly shifting. Continuously discussing anti-harassment measures and how to create a healthy workplace culture will help to maintain one. 

Plus, you may have some team members who have been at your company or in the workforce for a long time. It’s critical to keep them and everyone else updated on appropriate conduct and their responsibilities surrounding harassment in the workplace.

Prevent Risk with an Effective Anti-harassment Program

Harassment training is not something companies of any size can afford to overlook. Consider it an investment in your people and your business: You’ll be keeping both safe!

And if you feel overwhelmed at the thought of developing your own program and policies, it might be time to work with an HR consultant who can guide the way. They’ll ensure you provide all the training you need when you need it.

For any questions about harassment prevention and training, contact BlueLion today at 603-818-4131 or! Our HR professionals are trained in these areas and will be happy to create a custom solution for your organization.

The information on this website, including its newsletters, is not, nor is it intended to be legal advice. You should contact an attorney or HR specialist for advice on your individual situation.