Training for government agencies has its own distinctive challenges and opportunities. Generally, the issues in the public and private sectors are not necessarily unalike, but it’s the way EEO practitioners navigate the training that is different. Understanding these dynamics is the first step in making the training create positive results in the workplace.
Dynamics of EEO Offices
EEO offices occupy a unique space and function within government agencies. Many employees use them to address certain sensitive issues, especially since they are a designated resource for objectively listening to employee concerns. Being independent, however, can create a disconnect between EEO and the HR and Legal Departments. This division usually does not exist in the private sector where HR departments handle employee complaints.
What’s important is to find a way to make the position a benefit. Often, there are many places for employees to raise concerns and no clear direction as to which office handles which type of complaint. Important concerns sometimes get stuck in the administration process and problems are not fully and/or efficiently resolved. This causes confusion and frustration among employees and departments, resulting in tensions that can easily be avoided. It’s critical to identify roles and responsibilities and then communicate the places where leaders can get help when they need it.
Compliance training is an important function, but it can also hold you back. Many times these compliance presentations are simple PowerPoint presentations and, while they cover the material, they are not very engaging. By only addressing the requirements and not looking at the broader issues, you may be limiting your impact.
One key way for EEO to make their training more effective is to go beyond compliance. To achieve better results, focus on the underlying issues that affect the organization’s culture, which will, in turn, impact your compliance.
Ultimately, to make your training effective, it must be seen as more than an EEO issue. It may be your initiative, but it’s important to tie it to the mission and vision of the agency. When training addresses the overall needs of the organization, it leads to more financial and logistical support and people are more excited about it because it matters to them.
Collaborate with other departments to determine the support they need to meet their objectives and to develop a cohesive message. Not only will it allow you to design a more robust program that supports multiple purposes, but you’ll also get more buy-in and send a stronger message across the organization.
Finally, make the training interesting and engaging. Use real-world scenarios where employees can practice appropriate responses and behaviors, initiate meaningful discussion where they can ask questions, learn from one another, and give and receive honest feedback. Gone are the days of slide presentations that deliver dry information and leave your employees watching the clock.
Expanding the scope of training, collaborating with other departments, clarifying where to turn with complaints and focusing on the culture are keys to effectively delivering positive results in the workplace. As a result, it will also significantly change the perception of EEO—for the better. The greatest effect, however, is that it will make your organization a better place to work for you and your co-workers.