Whether you’re in Human Resources (HR), a learning professional, or a compliance officer, chances are you will at some point work on providing anti-harassment training for your company’s employees. While this may seem relatively straightforward, these days, it is not.The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements shone a spotlight on sexual harassment in the workplace, which led to the topic becoming a top priority for organizations to address. As a result, we’ve seen locales worldwide developing their workplace requirements to help prevent employee harassment based on personal characteristics legally protected in that region.In most countries, the law requires employers to take measures to prevent harassment. Most choose to fulfill requirements with an actual policy and related harassment training to illustrate how the policies apply to real-life workplace interactions. Companies that operate in various regions or even different states in the United States, have the daunting task of keeping up with the laws in their various locations.In the United States, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) encourages, but does not require, employers to conduct sexual harassment prevention training. Some states also encourage, but don't require, employers to conduct sexual harassment prevention training. Other states require training and may be very specific in their requirements. And the list of requirements is changing rapidly.But what makes anti-harassment training an even more timely topic is the change occurring across the workforce: one where employees’ expectations of their employers are beginning to shift.With social issues frequently in the news, harassment and other topics, such as discrimination and bullying, are top of mind for today’s socially aware workforce. Exactly how employers choose to address these concerns has escalated in their importance in the minds of this workforce, so much so that employees increasingly want to work for organizations where the cultural values align with their own. In 2020, Gartner’s research showed that 74% of employees expect their employer to become more actively involved in the cultural debates of the day. This changes the game for employers — who once addressed topics such as harassment by checking the box on a policy and training class — to a new paradigm where employers can look at social issues, including harassment, holistically to provide a respectful, safe, and inclusive workplace for all.
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