[author: Ingrid Fredeen]
A year ago at this time, we look forward to a year that should be more polarized, more distributed, and marked by more objections to training content. The past year has undeniably delivered on that prediction – whether it’s training on diversity, harassment, workplace violence and abusive behavior, active shooter training, or COVID health and safety protocols. -19, employees had opinions. The pursuit of remote and hybrid working has pushed organizations to move from a “wait and see” approach to a “we have to figure out how to train in this new environment” initiative.
As we look forward to 2022, employers will need to focus on delivering policies and training in the “new normal”. The problem is that it is not yet entirely clear which characteristics will define normality. And even when we feel like we have it all figured out, chances are that will change again.
While the long-term future of work remains fluid, focusing on these three strategies will help your organization face 2022 much more successfully.
Prioritize access to technology
Two forces are at play – remote work is here to stay for many workplaces, and in workplaces where onsite work is essential (such as service, manufacturing, hospitality, and transportation), gathering people in one place for in-person training is on the decline. To support this new normal, employers must focus on providing all employees with access to the technology needed to access training and policies. This includes employees who don’t need other technology in their jobs and who don’t have a corporate email address or personal devices. Without a commitment to providing access and investment in technology, employers will continue to struggle to provide training to all who need it or are required by law to receive it?
Once employers recognize the need to provide easy access to all employees, they will reap significant training benefits. Among these advantages, the main ones are more effective learners and the delivery of a more controlled and coherent message on essential subjects for the organization.
This approach to training delivery helps to ensure that it is successful, that risks are discussed appropriately, and that individual instructors do not influence content with personal opinion or bias.
Adapt to emerging and evolving risks
The risk profile of most organizations has evolved significantly over the past 1-2 years. New risks have emerged and existing risks have worsened. COVID-19 protocols and compliance requirements; salaried work and staggered hours of teleworkers; the growing need for active shooter training; harassment and discrimination with a focus on contemporary examples; and purposeful and purposeful approaches to diversity and inclusion are just a few of the topics that have taken on a new level of importance for all organizations. To successfully address these risk areas, it is not enough to cover the subject, it is to cover it correctly. A course you may have rolled out years ago probably needs new content, new approaches, and a new message – and it needs to reflect where your organization is today with respect to risk.
Other risks continue to evolve and also attract attention. For example, rapidly evolving environmental, social and governance (ESG) frameworks have focused on the overall impact companies have on the world around them. But as with any other area of risk and liability, employers will need to assess and determine the type of training they need to support their organization’s ESG program.
Clarity of expectations
Living in uncertainty is difficult for many people, and 2022 will be marked by ongoing uncertainty. Employers should do what they can to create certainty for their employees – even if that means some employees will not agree with the position taken.
Policies and your code of conduct are a great place to set expectations and give employees some clarity about the consequences they will face for their actions. Current policies may reflect what was good enough yesterday but is no longer good enough in the new normal.
Policies should be seen as a cornerstone for employees regarding conduct and performance – and the consequences of their actions. Organizations should develop a plan to critically assess and update key policies with the goal of making them more clear, usable and accessible.
Consider what kind of content not only should be in your policy, but what should be in your policies in light of the changes we’ve seen. After which, it is essential to ensure that you update the appropriate training to include the most current reflection of your policy and key expectations. When updating policies, think about the events that challenge the business and ask yourself if your policy provides enough guidance for managers and employees to respond appropriately.
There are many contemporary examples of employee behavior that can seemingly fall into a gray area where an employer can or should take a stand, for example:
- A racist rant posted on social media that was recorded while an employee was out with friends
- A manager who refuses to enforce the organization’s policy on vaccine or face covering requirements
- An employee who posts threatening memes on an unrelated social media page
- A manager who has personal beliefs contrary to the core values of your organization
Your policy and training may not present specific examples such as those listed above, but the language should consider the potential for events such as these. We will continue to see swift calls for justice from employers when filmed misconduct and wrongdoing is posted on social media. Most importantly, employees should not be surprised when corrective actions for a behavior are issued.
In many ways, this year will be a continuation of past years, where employers strive to continue to evolve and adapt training and policies to a highly polarized environment while investing in technology and resources to ensure the equity in education and application within the workforce. Employers will continue to navigate a variety of training and enforcement challenges. Managing the training and code of conduct policy effectively requires a thoughtful approach and dedicated resources to ensure that employees are reached equally.
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