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Employment Law Training – What to Expect in 2024

Employment Law Training – What to Expect in 2024

Are you prepared for your 2024 mandatory training requirements?

The holidays are over, and the calendar has flipped to 2024. As we move into the new year, many organizations are well into their planning for mandatory and optional employment law compliance training on important issues such as workplace harassment, workplace culture, discrimination, and workplace violence prevention. Each of these areas has seen significant changes in the past year, and with those changes comes the need to analyze our training practices (both as employers and as providers) to ensure that we not only remain compliant with the law but also provide our workforces with the best possible opportunity to succeed and thrive within the organization while maintaining its value of a positive, healthy, and safe working environment for the new year and beyond.

The following are areas of significance to watch out for and ensure training is up-to-date and ahead of the curve:

2023 Survey Shows Culture a Top Factor in Organizational Success

When considering the depth of your training program for 2024, it is important to take note of what is most important to your employees. While it is critical to remain compliant with the law, employees are becoming more vocal about needing a positive culture when deciding where to work. The results of a 2023 Korn Ferry survey of over 500 executives provide some objective data on the importance of workplace culture to employee recruitment and retention at the highest levels of organizations. The survey results also demonstrate why educating employees in behavioral skills, civility and respect, bias, harassment and discrimination, and bystander intervention should be on your organization’s “to-do” list for 2024.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents to the Korn Ferry survey attribute 30-plus percent of their organization’s market value to culture. Further, executives in the “most-admired” companies list “learning” as one of the five top characteristics of a positive culture (along with customer focus, accountability, results orientation, empathy, and learning). These results show leaders no longer see education as a burden, provided the skills derived from a learning program lead to positive results in the work environment and their personal lives. Such responses represent a sea change from prior studies in this area, where leaders saw learning programs as a productivity and time drain.

When considering your plan for education in the new year, it is important to consider the factors that make up a healthy workplace culture, given that empirical data shows it is the nucleus that drives the most admired organizations. In addition to providing top-of-the-line harassment and other mandatory education, it is essential that you devote the proper time to improving the behavioral skills of your workforce so that you can ensure your culture is as strong as it can be. In a world where employees (including executives) are more willing than ever to change jobs if the fit is not correct, it is essential that you provide the foundation necessary for attracting and retaining the best possible talent.

EEOC Releases Strategic Enforcement Plan for 2024–2028

As part of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Strategic Enforcement Plan Fiscal Years 2024-2028, the agency, which is tasked with enforcing and prosecuting violations of the federal anti-discrimination laws, has again made harassment a critical part of its strategy for the upcoming period. The strategic plan makes clear that incidents of harassment have increased, and recent charges have seen an uptick in “intersecting” or “combination” forms of harassment. Indeed, the fiscal year 2022 saw 47 percent of all charges processed by the agency include a charge of harassment, which has caused the agency to step up its efforts to combat workplace harassment – with an emphasis on harassment that includes but goes far beyond the “sexual” harassment emphasized from 2017 to 2022.

In its new plan, the EEOC stated, “to combat [the] persistent problem [of harassment, the EEOC will] continue to focus on strong enforcement . . . [and] will also focus on promoting comprehensive anti-harassment programs and practices, including training tailored to the employer’s workplace and workforce.” (emphasis added). This statement speaks to the need to utilize training that speaks to the nature of the employer in the industry and is a change from the last strategic enforcement plan, which espoused the need for conducting regular and routine training (in a more general sense).

Under the 2024–2028 Plan, the EEOC will be much more aggressive in auditing anti-harassment policies and practices, including training. For this reason, it is critical to provide up-to-date training and be in touch with your industry and the needs of your workforce in 2024 and beyond. For this reason, we strongly suggest partnering with a provider like Syntrio, who not only offers versions of its industry-leading harassment courseware that are offered in vertical editions catered to a number of important industries but also updated on an annual basis to ensure not only compliance but also provide a contemporary feel and look to the learner.

Bystander Intervention is a Critical Aspect of Incident Prevention

Critical to maintaining a positive workplace culture that is free from incidents of harassment is employees’ willingness to speak up and intervene when they witness something dangerous or offensive. Successful organizations with positive and inclusive cultures understand that everyone has a role in preventing workplace harassment. Successful businesses use training programs that go above and beyond the bare minimum of compliance and give employees in-depth instructions on what to do when they see (or are the target of) behavior that might be considered harassment. Ensuring that your workforce understands its duty to protect the workplace culture you work so hard to achieve is not only essential to any training program but also mandatory in many jurisdictions (such as Chicago and New York) and officially recommended by others (including California).

To learn more about this critical topic, including what a bystander is, how to demonstrate accountability to the workforce, how to stop offensive behavior, and how to educate all members of your workforce, Syntrio invites you to register for and attend our free webinar on the topic on February 7, 2024. The webinar, “Breaking the Silence: Strategies for Effective Bystander Intervention,” will provide key skills in this important training area in 2024. We hope you can join us at 2 p.m. Eastern on that date!

Workplace Violence Prevention Training Takes Center Stage in California

In September 2023, California enacted Senate Bill 553, which goes into effect on July 1, 2024. Under the new law, nearly all California employers must enact a plan to prevent violence in their organizations by this coming summer. They must provide training on preventing workplace violence shortly after passing their plan. Syntrio has recently published a comprehensive guide (link to the blog post “New California Workplace Violence Training Requirement Goes into Effect in 2024”), and we welcome you to read the guide to gain a greater understanding of the nuances of this new law and its impact on your training obligations for 2024.

Beyond the obligations in the law, you must understand that the new California law creates yet another compliance training obligation for employers in that state. Given workplace violence is such an important issue for the safety of your workforce, this “burden” should be borne with pride and the knowledge that anything we can do to protect our workforce should be welcomed, embraced, and marketed internally as a positive step toward implementing and maintaining a safe and healthy work environment for our workforces and visitors.

Syntrio has crafted a course that meets the requirements of the new California law and will be customizable to both the employer’s plan and the industry. As new developments and regulations occur, Syntrio will update its course as it does with all material. We welcome the opportunity to partner with your organization to provide the best training for your workforce on the market on this very important topic.

Next Steps

A new year provides employers with the opportunity to perform a refresh on their training programs. As a thought-leader in the workplace culture and compliance space, and the industry leader in e-learning products aimed at improving workplace culture through education, we relish the opportunity to discuss how our products can help your organization craft a menu of education for your workforce throughout the year 2024 and beyond that will not only keep you compliant with the various laws in the United States and abroad, but will help you achieve the goal of a positive working environment that your current employees will be proud to be a part of and prospective employees will be competing to join.

Feel free to contact a member of Syntrio’s staff to see how we can work together to make your workplace culture all it can be in 2024 and beyond.

Since 2007, Jonathan has practiced labor and employment law on behalf of management. Jonathan focuses his practice on advising employers on the prevention of harassment and discrimination issues, with an emphasis on providing in-person harassment training programs to companies of all sizes. Jonathan is licensed in California, Illinois, and Wisconsin, and maintains a national advice practice.

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