Part 2: Employee Trainings: Time for HR to Shine
In Part 1 of our series, we explored strategies for making your workday more productive. In this segment, we’ll delve into employee trainings, a key responsibility in the HR repertoire.
We know that trainings serve to communicate important information. Yet, trainings also shine a spotlight on HR itself. In the #MeToo era, some have cast a harsh glare on HR, accusing HR of paying lip service to employee concerns while actually functioning to protect management. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, trainings present HR with a critical opportunity not just to teach, but also to listen to employees and send a message about the values of your organization.
Here are five tips for making your training sessions more effective and engaging.
1. Go live. Whenever possible, present your trainings in person or streaming on video. Indeed, the EEOC, in its Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment, champions live, interactive training as a prime tool for preventing workplace harassment. When employees can ask questions in real time, they are more likely to engage with the material and apply it in their worklives. The chance to hear the questions of colleagues may also highlight aspects of the material that employees may miss by simply reading a set of slides in their offices. To encourage employees to participate, consider substituting, “Any questions?”—which tends to prompt a moment of silence—with, “What topic would you like to hear more about?” Going live also allows you to keep the content fresh by incorporating up-to-the minute legal and business developments into your presentation.
2. Be ready for primetime. Studies show that people tend to be most alert and engaged during mornings and on days early in the workweek. This insight suggests that you’re more likely to get the attention of your audience by giving your training on a Tuesday morning rather than on a Thursday afternoon. For employees who don’t work the traditional 9-to-5, it makes sense to schedule the training early in their shifts to take advantage of their more alert times.
3. Stick to your timeslot. You’ll convey respect for employees’ schedules (and save yourself time) by starting and finishing your presentation on schedule. Breaking down your material into segments can help you stay on pace and adapt to your audience. Make a short and long version of each segment. The short version will cover your essential takeaways and leave time for questions. In the long version, you can either present more examples to flesh out your key points or use the time to take more questions. As you move through your material, you can choose whether to present the long or short version of each segment in order to keep to your scheduled end time.
4. Know your audience. No one likes hearing a generic presentation. Instead of using a slide deck from the Internet, tailor your material to the culture and workforce of your organization, as the EEOC recommends. To show the range of conduct that your EEO policy prohibits, offer specific scenarios that illustrate potential discrimination, harassment, retaliation, or failure to accommodate. Similarly, in training employees about protecting confidential information, raise hypotheticals that highlight the categories of confidential information and practices for safeguarding that information that your policy describes. Also consider whether the material lends itself to separate sessions for non-managers and managers in light of the particular responsibilities of management. Likewise, if your workforce is spread across several states or localities, you’ll want to cover local issues in your presentation or consider hosting separate sessions for employees in each region.
5. Solicit questions and reviews. After the training, it’s important to give employees an opportunity to ask questions that may have come to mind only after they left the session or that they may not have felt comfortable asking in a group setting. Keep the conversation going by reaching out to attendees for this purpose and to seek their feedback about the training. Ask them what they found useful and what could be improved, both in terms of style and substance. Ask them what topics they would like to see in a future session. Through this feedback, you will likely gain valuable insight into what employees took away from the presentation to inform your future sessions. You may also learn about real-life issues brewing in the workplace, giving you an opportunity to respond before they reach a boiling point.
By putting these tips into action, trainings can be more than just a way to convey information. By making HR more visible, trainings can foster a work environment where employees know about the resources that HR offers and feel comfortable using them.
For more guidance on employee trainings, such as updates in the law to cover or how to address state-specific issues, feel free to reach out to our ELBI practice group.
Stay tuned for the third and final installment of our Time Crunched? series, where we’ll look at how to make the most of your time at professional conferences.