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Online Conversation Highlights Issues with Current State of Harassment Training

Online Conversation Highlights Issues with Current State of Harassment Training

A viral TikTok video highlights the importance of modern anti-harassment and discrimination training that goes beyond compliance.

On March 23, 2023, tech blog Daily Dot posted an article discussing a recent TikTok post about Starbucks harassment training videos. The article’s topic is contemporary and coincides with Syntrio’s upcoming webinar, “Rethink Harassment Training in the Modern Workplace,” scheduled for April 18, 2023. The TikTok post that was the subject of the article sparked an internet conversation about the current state of anti-harassment training in the United States, and whether much, (if not all) of what is being offered is out of date and out of touch with the reality of the modern workplace.

Online Consensus Feels Starbucks Training Video Misses the Mark

The TikTok post that was the subject of the Daily Dot article analyzed a training video provided to Starbucks employees and posed the question to users: “why are training videos always an excuse to let out the insults they been sitting on?” TikTok had over 2.5 million views and provoked several exciting comments, showing learners’ strong reactions to harassment training and the risk of training your employees the wrong way. It is clear from the words of the TikTok post that many employees do not feel they are gaining requisite value for their commitment to completing training assignments. Employees have high expectations for getting a return on the investment in their time that goes into completing harassment training.

In the Starbucks training video clip, the user posted an employee named Latoya holding the door for a coworker who had his hands full and said, “it’s a common courtesy.” The voiceover to the video then says, “by contrast, if Latoya holds the door for Raj and mutters ‘Gay men are so weak,’ that could be considered harassment.” The Daily Dot article points out the comments to the video and cites several, ranging from those questioning the utility of the example to others saying things like, “this is how we all talk to each other at my store…but we’re all queer.” Such statements are not uncommon reactions to harassment training examples, which is why it is so necessary to carefully craft scenarios that may spark discussion but go about doing so in the right way. The video in question was controversial among LGBTQ employees and non-LGBTQ commenters alike. The training video missed the mark based on the reactions to the TikTok post and the Daily Dot article.

Harassment Training is Out of Touch with the Realities of Modern Work

The Daily Dot article provides a history of harassment training in the United States. It makes sharp points about the fact that exercise has become a function of avoiding liability for the employer rather than its original intended purpose of teaching employees how to treat one another in the workplace respectfully. The latter approach provides employees with the necessary tools to make going to work somewhere to go and be productive members of the workforce and society at large rather than a place to be fearful of harassment. Of the comments reported by the author, none might be more resonating with a training provider than “harassment videos are always so wild.”- Syntrio has the Harassment Training Solution.

Now that we are five years past the #MeToo sexual harassment movement (ironically, a concept that started online), harassment training (and learner expectations thereof) is in a much different place. However, much of the training provided to employees in 2023 was developed in or around that time in response to several laws requiring training enacted between 2018-2019 (and beyond). The theme of the now outdated training modules was “shock and awe,” and the usage of examples that may have illustrated complex scenarios that may or may not have been violations of the law but were near-always cringe-worthy and painful to work through. Syntrio Releases New eLearning Series for Employment Discrimination Prevention

As the Workforce Continues Changing, Harassment Training Must Evolve

As the workforce evolved entering the pandemic era, the harassment training industry was slow to develop. Suddenly, employees were placed into a new hybrid work environment, and social norms and expectations among employees quickly changed. Further, in 2021, a United States Supreme Court ruling holding sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination illegal under federal law thrust LGBTQ+ issues into the limelight. They gave this ever-growing segment of the workplace an increased voice (and new causes of action). Yet training has not reflected these new realities and has become stale and out of touch with the modern workforce.

As noted by the Daily Dot article, employers providing harassment training to their workforce need to take a hard look at the reality of the situation and start giving training that the learner will find a valuable investment of their time. For too long, harassment training has had the one-way benefit of improving legal protection for the employer in the event of a claim rather than helping improve workplace culture to a higher degree of civility and respect among employees that benefits everyone. At Syntrio, we understand the needs of the modern employee and carefully craft our courseware to reflect these realities. For these reasons, we look forward to helping your organization prepare a plan for harassment and other training. We welcome the opportunity to partner with you on offering courses you and your employees will find engaging, modern, and reflective of today’s workplace.

Syntrio will provide you with a modern suite of training for your compliance needs

Syntrio has developed engaging and interactive e-learning modules that help our partners comply with mandatory laws in a way that provides the learner with information that can be used in and out of work. Going beyond the requirements of the law and into concepts such as workplace civility, respect, and inclusivity, Syntrio’s industry-leading products will allow your workforce to learn the mandatory topics and take home helpful information that can benefit them away from work. We look forward to speaking with a member of your staff soon to show you how we can assist you in reducing the potential for harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

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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