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Workplace harassment training goes into overdrive

Workplace harassment training goes into overdrive

The #MeToo movement has brought all forms of sexual harassment into the spotlight and there has been a corresponding spike in subscriptions to online workplace harassment training videos and eLearning courses for staff training.

According to training provider TrainUp, online search requests for its anti-harassment courses have gone from 267 in January 2017 to 2,150 in January 2018, an eightfold increase. TrainUp’s founder Jeremy Tillman wrote in a blog post that “The growth has been explosive”.

Navex Global, a producer of training videos, has seen inquiries for its harassment courses jump on average 20 percent a month since last October. And workplace inclusivity and harassment training specialist Traliant co-founder Andrew Rawson says, “We get literally dozens of inbound inquiries a day … What #MeToo has done is moved something that was important and made it urgent.”

Much of this training features females experiencing inappropriate behaviour from males, often their superiors, and pauses to reflect on how best to deal with such scenarios. This type of training has been around for years, but has quite often found itself buried in a list of modules, skipped over, or given only cursory attention. But now, in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and President Trump’s lewd comments on women in the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape, dusting off an old video on sexual harassment just won’t do.

Training providers are now at pains to keep their materials up to date and relevant to current concerns. The Society for Human Resource Management, a trade association, says about 32 percent of its members have changed the content and format of their anti-harassment training in the past 12 months.

There’s so much more than unwanted shoulder-touching going on. “Everything we write is pulled from something in the news,” said Ingrid Fredeen, a senior product manager of Navex Global’s in-person training program. “You have to give them contemporary examples. Otherwise it’s not meaningful.” One of Navex Global’s recent videos showed a group of employees talking dirty to a smart speaker similar to Amazon’s Echo. Vantage Point Training are presenting their scenarios via VR headsets, which they say boost memory retention. Workplace scenarios are being depicted that are much more real to employees than an artificial (and strictly softened).

And with most of Hollywood having known about Weinstein’s behaviour but passively stood by as it happened, some video creators are now focusing on ‘bystander intervention’ – witnessing something questionable, stepping up and saying “That’s not cool.”

That will probably do more for the #MeToo movement than just reporting it to HR.