Articles / Developing a Training Plan for Legal Compliance
Developing a Training Plan for Legal Compliance
Before creating your training program, it is important for you as the trainer to do your homework and research your company’s situation thoroughly. Most employers understand that good employee training is essential for an organization’s success.
Training topics may include general skills such as literacy, technical skills, orientation about the organization, as well as programs designed to prevent lawsuits, audits, and fines, such as sexual harassment training, safety training, and ethics training.
Employee training was once considered an optional benefit, an“extra”that only the most forward-looking employers provided to the most promising employees. Even now, when the economy turns downward, employee training is often the first to go, viewed not as an investment but as an expense to be disposed of in tough times.
Today, more and more employers understand that, far from being a frill, good employee training is necessary to a company’s success. Federal law requires training in on specific health and safety-related topics, and sexual harassment training is a must.
In addition to meeting legal requirements, employers know that an intelligent, well-trained workforce is central to worker productivity and well-being. Employers with high employee turnover tend to train less and spend less on training than other businesses. While it is unclear which comes first, the probable inference is that training is linked to long-term employment and is an important factor in successful performance, productivity, and morale.
There are several areas where you need to provide training. These are sexual harassment, discrimination, and safety.
The U. S. Supreme Court has ruled that employers may be held liable for sexual harassment if they do not exercise reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct any such harassing behavior in the workplace—even if they were not aware of the specific actions in question. The Supreme Court’s decision highlights the great importance of sexual harassment training, since a key technique for preventing and addressing unlawful harassment is training. With the increased costs of litigation and the many large jury verdicts, training programs are a relatively small, but absolutely critical, investment. Effective sexual harassment training must involve all managers (to the highest level), supervisors, and rank-and-file employees.
Training should not be a one-time event, but must be repeated for all new employees, and held at least annually for all employees. It should inform employees what sexual harassment consists of, and what the legal standards for liability are, and instruct employees at all levels about the mechanisms and procedures in place for immediate reporting of infractions. In addition, because the burden is on employers to correct sexually harassing behavior, special consideration should be given to training those responsible for investigating such behavior when it is brought to their attention.
The following is an outline of the major topics that should be included in your sexual harassment training program. Note that there may be important state law issues that you should also address:
Define sexual harassment
Consider the laws that prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace
Give examples of what conduct constitutes sexual harassment
Give examples of what is not sexual harassment
Explain the specific forms of harassment—tangible employment action and hostile environment
Outline who can commit sexual harassment
Explain who can experience sexual harassment
Explain under what conditions sexual harassment can occur
Tell employees who to report to if sexual harassment should occur
Explain when an employer is liable
Outline the objectives of a workplace sexual harassment policy
Explain everyone’s role in achieving the policy objectives of the organization
Show how to prevent sexual harassment from occurring
Outline the employee’s responsibilities
Train employees to use reasonable care to make a good-faith effort to avoid the harm of harassment and promptly utilize internal complaint procedures
Outline the responsibilities managers and employers have to address the harassment
Explain what steps should be taken to ensure a thorough investigation
Explain what to do if an employee does not cooperate with the investigation
In addition to training, here are a few other tips for avoiding harassment claims:
Know who qualifies as a supervisor.
Employers are often exposed to unnecessary liability by failing to be aware of who is representing the company in a supervisory capacity. A supervisor is any individual who is able to undertake or recommend tangible employment actions and/or direct an employee’s daily work activities.
Use reasonable care.
Reasonable care by an employer is found where the employer establishes, disseminates, and enforces an antiharassment policy with:
A clear explanation of prohibited conduct provided periodically to every employee
Assurance that employees who make complaints of harassment or provide information related to such complaints will be protected against retaliation
A clearly described complaint process that provides accessible avenues of complaint
Assurance that the employer will protect the confidentiality of harassment complaints to the extent possible
A complaint process that provides a prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation
Assurance that the employer will take immediate and appropriate corrective action when it determines that harassment has occurred
Other measures to ensure effective dissemination of the policy and complaint procedure, including posting them in central locations and incorporating them into employee handbooks
Enact an effective complaint procedure.
An effective complaint procedure is found where an appropriate response by management is taken, such as a thorough investigation of all complaints and taking action to correct any and all offensive conduct in a timely manner along with other reasonable steps to prevent and correct harassment.
Because the affirmative defense for sexual harassment has been extended to other forms of discrimination, it is important to provide training on the various forms of discrimination.
The various antidiscrimination laws that apply include:
Age Discrimination in Employment Act
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Civil Rights Act of 1991
Civil Rights Act Title VII
Executive Order 11246
Immigration Reform and Control Act
Jury System Improvement Act of 1978
National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)
Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
OlderWorkers Benefits Protection Act
Pregnancy Discrimination Act
Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Act of 1974
Discrimination is covered by federal law, state law, and company policy. Key activities most vulnerable to charges of discrimination are hiring, promotion and performance review, dismissal, time off, and compensation and benefits. Workplace atmosphere is also important.
When training employees and managers on discrimination, the training objectives for the session should include:
Identifying the protected classes
Recognizing employment practices and actions that violate antidiscrimination laws and policies
Establishing and maintaining a work environment that is not hostile to protected groups
Safety training and enforcement have become an increasingly important part of every supervisor’s job. The federal government keeps passing new safety regulations and is stepping up its enforcement of both new and old regulations all the time. The costs of insurance and workers’ compensation keep going up, and companies are looking harder for ways to reduce job-related illnesses, injuries, and claims. Highly publicized on-the-job accidents and injuries, as well as deaths and illnesses apparently related to workplace exposure to hazardous substances, have alerted everyone to the potential risks they face at work
Comply with laws and regulations.
Safety training is no longer a“nice-to-have” program. It’s absolutely mandatory for any company that wants to be productive and profitable. In fact, it’s mandatory for almost any company, regardless of its goals, because of the many laws and regulations governing workplace safety that have been issued by federal and state governments in recent years.
Many OSHA standards explicitly require the employer to train employees in the safety and health aspects of their jobs. Other OSHA standards make it the employer’s responsibility to limit certain job assignments to employees who are “certified, ”“competent, ”or “qualified”—meaning that they have had special previous training, inside or outside of the workplace. These requirements reflect OSHA’s belief that training is an essential part of every employer’s safety and health program for protecting workers from injuries and illnesses.
The Hazard Communication Standard (HazCom), also known as “Worker Right to Know, ” is one regulation that contains comprehensive training requirements to prevent employees from exposure to hazardous chemicals in the workplace. Under the HazCom standards, training is necessary to inform employees of topics such as:
The HazCom standard itself
The company’s HazCom program
Where employees may find material safety data sheets
How to read and use the information on container labels
How to read and use the information on material safety data sheets
Hazards associated with chemicals
How to select and use personal protective equipment
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has countless regulations that affect the operations of every type of industry. And for any particular operation or process that somehow doesn’t fall under a specific regulation, OSHA has what’s known as the “General Duty Clause”of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which is a catch-all clauseprovide a workplace free from recognized hazards that could cause death or serious bodily harm to employees.
In addition to training for legal compliance, employers provide safety training to save money. Workers and their employers pay dearly in injuries, illnesses, and even deaths, as well as property damages. Lost workdays, sick pay, insurance payments, and workers’ compensation costs add up quickly for companies of all sizes. The money that goes for those payments is not available for other, more beneficial, investments: higher salaries, new equipment, research and development.
Workers simply need more training—and especially more ongoing training—to be able to handle their jobs correctly, efficiently, and safely. Equipment is more complex, and the hazards of both substances used on the job and of operations are better known. In addition, many companies now expect workers to be able to perform a wider variety of tasks.
Profit from productivity.
Companies are trying hard to build and hold on to business by improving productivity and quality. Unsafe procedures are often reflected in poor and inefficient work habits, which make productivity and quality improvements hard to achieve. Unless workers are trained—and motivated to use what they learn on the job—their employers will fall behind in today’s very competitive marketplace—and workers’ jobs will be at risk. Stay out of jail. Failure to know and live up to legal requirements has its own costs. In addition to fines, legal expenses, and lost work time dealing with regulatory agencies, there have even been cases where employers who blatantly disregarded employee safety have received jail sentences.
Avoid increasingly strict penalties.
These legal requirements, and the penalties imposed for not meeting them, are likely to become stricter. As more is learned about the potential hazards in the workplace, there is more pressure to provide workers with the knowledge and skills to protect themselves and others from risk.
Keep records of training.
It is a very good idea for the employer to keep a record of all safety and health training. Many regulations require it but some, like the HazCom standard, do not. Records can provide evidence of the employer’s good faith and compliance with OSHA standards. Documentation can also supply an answer to one of the first questions an accident investigator will ask: “Was the injured employee trained to do the job?”Be sure you can answer “Yes. ” OSHA standards that require training are numerous. They include:
Employers must implement and ensure employee participation in a training program for all employees who are exposed to airborne concentrations of asbestos at or above the permissible exposure limit and/or the excursion limit. Employees must receive training before or at the time of initial assignment and at least annually thereafter. Annual training must also be provided to employees whoperform housekeeping duties in areas with asbestos-containing material (ACM) or presumed asbestos-containing material (PACM).
Employee exposure and medical records.
Employees must receive initial training and annual refresher training regarding the existence, location, and availability of all exposure and medical records, the person responsible for maintaining and providing access to the records, and each employee’s rights of access to the records.
Employers must provide information and training to employees who work in areas where hazardous chemicals are present. Such training must be provided at the time of initial assignment and whenever a new physical or health hazard is introduced into an employee’s work area. Information and training may be designed around categories of hazards (e. g. , flammability or carcinogenicity).
OSHA’s HazardousWaste and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) regulations require training for workers involved with general hazardous waste operations; Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) operations; treatment, storage, and disposal facilities (TSDFs); and emergency response. Training requirements vary with the type of operation involved. Lead. Employees subject to lead exposure above the action level or for whom the potential of skin or eye irritation exists must go through a training program.
Refresher training: Lead training must be repeated annually.
Personal Protective Equipment—General PPE. Employees must be trained in (at a minimum) and demonstrate understanding of when and what PPE is necessary; how to properly put on, adjust, wear, and take off PPE; the limitations of PPE; and the proper care, maintenance, useful life, and disposal of PPE. When necessary, employers must ensure that employees are retrained in these requirements. Situations when retraining must take place include, but are not limited to: changes in the workplace render previous training obsolete; types of PPE used changes; or employees demonstrate deficient understanding of required knowledge.
Employees required to wear respirators must receive training. Retraining must take place annually or when changes in the workplace make it necessary, employees demonstrate deficient understanding of required knowledge, or any other situation arises requiring retraining to ensure safe respirator use. Employees who wear respirators even if exposures are below the acceptable exposure limit must be provided with basic information on safe selection, maintenance, cleaning, and use. This information must be provided regardless of whether the respirator is supplied by the employer or employee.
Refresher training: Respirator training must be repeated annually.
Employees involved in operating a process or before being newly assigned to a process must receive training in that process. At a minimum, the training must cover the process’s specific safety and health hazards, emergency operations (including shutdown), and safe work practices applicable to the employee’s job tasks.
Refresher training: Process safety refresher training must be given at least every 3 years.
Emergency action plan.
Before implementing an emergency action plan, employers must designate and train a sufficient number of people to assist in the safe and orderly emergency evacuation of employees.
Employers must make known to employees the fire hazards of the materials and processes to which they are exposed.
Employers must provide training in the use and care of all hearing protectors provided to employees.
Processes and operations.
Each employee presently involved in operating a process, or before operating a newly assigned process, must be trained in the operating procedures, with emphasis on the specific safety and health hazards, emergency operations including shutdown, and safe work practices applicable to the employee’s job tasks. Alternatively, an employer may certify in writing that the employee has the required knowledge, skills, and abilities to safely carry out the duties and responsibilities as specified in the operating procedures. Refresher training must be provided at least every 3 years, and more often if necessary, to each employee involved in operating a process to ensure that the employee understands and adheres to the current operating procedures of the process.
The employer, in consultation with the employees involved in operating the process, will determine the appropriate frequency of refresher training. The employer must ascertain that each employee involved in operating a process, has received and understood the training required by this paragraph. The employer must prepare a record that contains the identity of the employee, the date of training, and the means used to verify that the employee understood the training.
Additional Training Your Company Should Provide
Employers offer training in sales, customer relations, various work skills, management skills, computer skills, new technology, production methods, communication skills, workplace law, ethics, and diversity, according to various workplace surveys. Here are some additional types of training your company should provide.
It takes only one employee, or even an agent of your company, to commit a crime, and your entire company may be held liable. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, with liability your company may face very large fines, a 5-year probationary period, recompense for the victim of the crime, and more.
Reduce your fines!
There is good news, though. You can reduce your organization’s fines by showing that you have established an effective compliance and ethics program in your company. To do this, you must train your employees at all levels, and your agents, on ethics. According to the Federal Sentencing Commission, an organization that has an effective compliance and ethics program can reduce its fines for a criminal conviction by as much as 90 percent.
Does this apply to your company?
The Federal Sentencing Commission states that the Federal Sentencing Guidelines apply to “all organizations whether publicly or privately held, and of whatever nature, such as corporations, partnerships, labor unions, pension funds, trusts, nonprofit entities, and governmental units.”
Steps for an effective ethics program.
The Federal Sentencing Guidelines outline seven steps an employer must take to have an effective compliance and ethics program:
An organization must establish standards and procedures to prevent and detect criminal conduct.
An organization’s high-level personnel must be knowledgeable about and oversee the content, implementation, operation, and effectiveness of the program.
An organization must take reasonable efforts to avoid giving substantial authority to an individual that the organization knew, or should have known, has engaged in criminal activity or other conduct inconsistent with an effective ethics program.
An organization must take reasonable measures to periodically conduct training programs for and disseminate information to the organization’s governing authority, high-level personnel, employees, and agents.
An organization must monitor and audit for criminal activity, periodically evaluate the effectiveness of the program, and create and communicate procedures for employees and agents to report criminal activity without fear of retaliation.
An organization must provide incentives to comply with the program and enforce disciplinary measures for engaging in criminal conduct or failing to prevent or detect criminal conduct.
An organization must respond appropriately to criminal conduct and modify the compliance and ethics program, if needed, to prevent further criminal conduct.
Who should you train?
According to the amended Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the following individuals must be trained:
Members of the organization’s governing body
Personnel with substantial authority
For smaller companies.
The Guidelines distinguish between what is required of large vs. small organizations, because the resources available to create compliance and ethics programs will vary by the size of the company. Small organizations are required to train their employees with“less formality and fewer resources” than large companies. For instance, in small companies:
The governing body of the company may actually manage the company’s compliance and ethics efforts, rather than just oversee the program.
Employees may be trained in informal staff meetings.
Monitoring can be accomplished during regular walkthroughs or by continual observation during the general management of the company.
Personnel on staff may conduct the training, rather than hiring trainers outside the company.
Compliance and ethics programs may be modeled on those of other, similar companies with successful, well-regarded programs.
Content of the training.
HR professionals, corporate executives, and middle managers deal with myriad ethical problems daily and must be clear on how these situations should be effectively, efficiently, and ethically handled. One cannot predict or prepare for every possible ethical dilemma, though, so it is important that training instills a“moral compass” for individual members of the organization to follow. When faced with an ethical dilemma, these individuals should be able to guide themselves down the ethical path. For that reason, training should be geared to the level of the employee, because lower-level employees will not face the same ethical issues as high-level managers. In addition, supervisors, managers, and executives must understand that they are to set an example for all other employees with their own ethical behavior.
When establishing a training program, be sure to include the following elements:
Information on the policies and procedures of the ethics program
Handouts of the organization’s code of ethics and code of conduct
The creation of an overall awareness and understanding of ethics in all employees
A review of the applicable laws related to ethics
A discussion of actual ethical dilemmas that employees have faced in their jobs
A series of hypothetical ethical dilemmas used to create an interactive training environment with a discussion of possible solutions
An outline and discussion of specific risk areas common in the company or industry
Specific issues that should be covered include, but are certainly not limited to:
Holding a second job
Authority of employees to grant discounts to customers
Gifts (there may be a limitation on receiving all gifts or gifts over a certain value)
Whether employees may have personal financial dealings with or invest in companies that supply materials to or buy materials from your company
How to use company funds
Whether employees’ families may take advantage of employee discounts
Whether employees may use fictitious names while conducting business
Harassment of all types
Employees performing acts of hospitality toward public officials
Prohibitions on all illegal activity
Competing with the company
Borrowing or lending money
Recruiting employees to work for another organization not related to the company
Conflicts of interest
Investigations of ethics violations
Disciplinary action for ethics violations
It is also important that training programs are reviewed periodically for effectiveness, currency, and reference to new laws.
Because orientation is generally a worker’s introduction to your organization, it’s important to do it well. Properly introducing and assimilating new employees into the company will have a real effect on the job they do in the future. In fact, studies show that the impressions a new worker forms during the first weeks on the job have a significant impact—positive or negative—on long-range performance and job satisfaction. Orientation is where most of these first impressions are formed.
During orientation a new employee needs to learn basic information about your company and the new job. There are six main objectives of new employee orientation:
To welcome new employees on board and make them feel comfortable.
To facilitate adjustment to the job. The sink or swim method of introducing employees to a new job is counterproductive and may permanently damage the employee’s relationship with you, the job, and the company. A good orientation program conveys all the initial information employees need to know about their jobs during the first few weeks.
To acquaint new workers with the company—its mission, its markets, its operation, and its people.
To inform new employees about a broad range of company policies that affects all aspects of their work and their relationship with the organization.
To complete required paperwork—all the forms and documents that must be completed during the first few days on the job.
To open the channels of communication through which employees can obtain information, ask questions, and discuss job problems. You will rely on effective two-way communication not only during the orientation process, but also throughout your professional relationship with an employee.
Orientation should not be done all at once on the employee’s first day at work, but should happen over a period of weeks as part of the new employee’s progress toward maximum productivity and to provide an ongoing check on how much the employee is learning as well as what problems he or she is experiencing.
The following activities should be at the top of the list for the first day of a new employee’s orientation:
Supervisors should be sure to welcome new employees personally and let them know that the company is glad to have them on board.
Introductions and workplace tour.
New employees should meet at least some of their co-workers and get a tour of the facility, including the locker room, cafeteria, vending machines, rest rooms, and so on.
Supervisors should make sure the employee has time at some point to complete any paperwork that must be turned in to Human Resources that day or the next morning.
Keys, equipment, etc.
This is the time to issue any keys, equipment, parking passes, badges, or other items the employee will need.
Supervisors should take time to sit down with new employees and be as specific about duties and responsibilities as possible. They should review the job description and describe a typical day on the job. They should also explain the importance of the position and how it fits into the operation as a whole.
Supervisors need to talk to new employees about their expectations and performance standards. They need to explain how performance will be monitored and evaluated. They should also outline the critical skills needed on the job and establish priorities.
Important department procedures should be reviewed on the first day, including how to record time worked, call in sick, and adhere to safety procedures.
Supervisors should take the time to answer the employee’s questions as they go along. There is a lot of information to take in all at once, and new employees need to be assured that everything will be reviewed in the days ahead.
It is also important to assign a meaningful task. A first work assignment that will get the employee involved in the job needs to be integrated into the day. It can be something simple like watching and helping a co-worker perform a task the new employee will be doing, reviewing files from the previous jobholder, or becoming familiar with a piece of equipment.
The supervisor should either personally have lunch with the new employee or have an employee in the department take the new employee to lunch.
End of the shift.
It’s important to end the day on a positive note. Before the employee leaves at the end of the shift, the supervisor should spend some private time with the employee to review progress made on the first-day work assignment and answer any additional questions. If at all possible, touch base with the new hire yourself at the end of the day.
On the second day, the supervisor can continue with any items left over from the first day. The supervisor can also get started with more in-depth job training. The new employee can also begin another job assignment to be completed with the help and guidance of an experienced co-worker.
End of the first week.
By the end of the first week, job training should be well under way. The new employee should be familiar with the main orientation information and have had time to complete all necessary documentation. The employee should also have become more familiar with the job, the department, co-workers, and the larger facility. At the end of the first week, supervisors should schedule a formal meeting with the employee to make sure that he or she is adjusting to the job well. At that time, the supervisor can review the employee’s understanding of duties, responsibilities, procedures, and so forth. This meeting will also provide the employee with a chance to ask questions and for the supervisor to clarify any misconceptions about the job.
After 2 weeks.
The supervisor should meet formally with the employee again to discuss progress and answer questions. This gives the supervisor the opportunity to check on how well the employee is doing with job training and to discuss any problems concerning training or other aspects of the job.
After 4 weeks.
The formal orientation period will pretty much have run its course by this time. At this time, supervisors can give new employees a brief evaluation of their performance, identifying areas of strength and needed growth. This is a good time to review the performance appraisal process so that the new employee knows what to expect from the first review. Supervisors can also take this opportunity to discuss future training needs with the employee.
Basic Training for New Supervisors
Imagine being promoted to supervisor after a few months on the job, required to complete reports for weekly meetings that might as well have been in another language, and thrown into the job of supervisor with little guidance. Unfortunately, this scenario is fairly typical.
Employers promote employees on the basis of their technical expertise—not on their leadership skills—and often don’t teach them how to adapt to their new supervisory role. Both employer and employee can be disappointed when new managers don’t live up to expectations. Worse still, new supervisors can make potentially costly mistakes. This“baptism by fire” approach can lead to poor results that may affect the company’s bottom line and cause problems with employee morale, turnover, or even lawsuits if an untrained supervisor runs afoul of employment laws while conducting a job interview. If top performers are to become top managers, they need a formal training program. One critical element of an effective training program is the timing of the training. The amount and type of training are also important.
The material should also be offered in small increments, offering short instruction time and the opportunity for new managers to practice their new skills. Follow-up discussions about what new methods were effective on the job can also be helpful. And follow-up training can be targeted toward specific areas where a new supervisor may be having trouble, such as delegation of tasks. Training is often wasted if it is not tied into things new supervisors deal with in day-to-day operations. The following items should be covered when training new supervisors:
Understanding legal and union contract information.
New supervisors need a comprehensive course in federal and state employment laws. In a unionized environment, employees may never have become familiar with their own union agreement. As supervisors, they need to know the proper disciplinary procedures to follow to avoid grievances. Since you’re going it alone, don’t hesitate to ask the union representatives to help you with this type of training.
Many new supervisors may be required to hire new employees, yet they have no experience with the legalities of interviewing or with the fine art of matching applicants to the right jobs. When training in these skills, role-plays and mock interviews can be a big help. Having a new supervisor sit in on an interview done by one of your most experienced supervisors could also be beneficial. Of course, legal issues faced during the hiring process need to reinforced.
Adjusting to the new role of supervisor in relation to former co-workers.
New managers should be prepared for the fact that their relationships with their former peers will change. Conducting a training session with both new and experienced supervisors—those who also came up through the ranks—can be a great way for new supervisors to hear how others have handled this sometime sticky problem.
As top performers, many new managers have difficulty letting go of the temptation to do the work and must learn to rely on subordinates to get the job done. When those subordinates used to be co-workers, they may find it especially difficult to delegate. Help them see that delegating not only frees up their time for their new tasks, but also gives their team members a chance to shine as they succeed at new duties.
Providing constructive feedback.
Many managers—both new and experienced—avoid giving employees corrective feedback. Confronting employees’ behavior can be unpleasant and can cause the employee to react negatively. Rather than face these consequences, managers often procrastinate or ignore poor performance. Help new supervisors see that the better practice is to correct small problems as they come up, rather than waiting until an employee becomes a disciplinary problem. Training for supervisors in this area should be designed around their real-life problems on the job. After learning the basics on how to give feedback, the participants can spend the remaining time role-playing scenarios in which they practice giving corrective feedback. This should provide supervisors with enough confidence to return to work ready to give regular feedback.
New supervisors have only seen your performance management from one side of the desk. Now they will be in charge of writing and delivering performance reviews. Along with training on giving constructive feedback, you need to provide new supervisors with the nuts and bolts of your company’s performance management system.
Most new supervisors have been hired for the job, or promoted into it, because management saw leadership potential in them. Even so, almost all supervisors can benefit from leadership training to reinforce their innate tendencies and help them learn how to motivate others.
Today’s workers, from salespeople to factory workers to managers, need far more education and training than did their predecessors simply to maintain their jobs today, and handle the expanded duties they may have tomorrow. Experts recommend that businesses seek partnerships with local and state high schools, technical schools, community colleges, and government agencies to enhance basic educational skills (e. g. , math calculations, good writing skills). Employers can set up school-to-work programs, apprenticeships, or mentorships for new employees and for adults seeking to strengthen or redirect their work skills. Beyond this, employers can develop specific skill training tailored to their own workplaces, to teach employees how the job is done, how the particular employer wants the job to be done, and how the job is likely to be done in the future.
Diversity training refers to an employer’s attempt, through training programs, to create a workforce where employees of both genders and all ages, ethnic groups, races, and religions, as well as those with disabilities, are represented at every level throughout the company and are able to work harmoniously. It is about acceptance of others based on their contribution to the workplace and their capacities as human beings. Diversity programs are critical to an organization, but they must be extremely well done to be effective. Often, outside consultants offer diversity training in combination with sexual harassment training.
Keep Track of Training!
With all you have to do as an HR practitioner, it may seem that documenting training is just one more task on an already endless to-do list. But the few minutes you take to document training sessions are well worth it.
Documenting your training efforts serves several purposes.
It helps you track your efforts and see who was trained, what they were trained on, and what future training might be needed.
Because training program participation and presentation must be free of discrimination, documenting your training efforts provides a record that all employees have fair and equal access to training.
It provides proof to such agencies as OSHA and the U. S. Department of Labor that you are complying with federal and state training requirements.
The basics of documentation show how, why, and to whom training was presented.
In addition, by going beyond the basics and documenting individual successes and failures in training, you will be in a position to follow up with additional training where necessary.
Additional Training Concerns
Employers must be especially careful that their training programs are free of discrimination in selection and presentation. Performance evaluations of trainees should be reviewed for possible discrimination, and training documentation should be kept in a separate file.
Breaking Through Language Barriers
As more and more non-English-speaking workers join the workforce, ensuring that the non-English-speaking employees in your company understand and can implement training is critical to your organization’s success.
Here are some strategies:
Use native speakers as trainers.
Training for Hispanic employees and other non-English-speaking employees has traditionally been limited to an Anglo speaker with a translator in front of the class. Much can be lost in the translation. If at all possible, provide trainers who are native speakers. Keep class size small, and encourage student participation.
Be aware of cultural differences.
Cultural differences often interfere with training outcomes. For example, many Hispanic workers may be reluctant to disobey work orders, even if unsafe or potentially deadly, out of a sense of duty or respect for authority. Sexual harassment training might be problematic for female employees of certain religious backgrounds who would be reluctant to confront a harasser directly. You will want to take into account such potential differences in planning and conducting training.
Provide hands-on training.
Paper-and-pencil tests are ineffective for a worker population with limited education and literacy. Instead, use a hands-on approach where no written tests are required, and content is taught through an actual live demonstration.
Training Time as Compensable Hours
Training programs conducted during regular working hours constitute work time and must be compensated as such, according to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). After-hours training need not be compensated if:
Attendance is entirely outside normal working hours and is voluntary (attendance will not be found voluntary if the employee is led to believe that attending is critical to his or her job).
The training is not directly related to the employee’s present job.
The employee does not do any productive work during the program.
A training program is considered directly related to the job if the training is designed to help the employee handle the present job more effectively (but voluntary attendance at school outside the workplace, after hours is not work time, even if it is related to the employee’s present job). Time spent in training for a new job or in the development of new skills is less likely to be classified as compensable work time. For comprehensive information, see the national Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) section.