Too many employers are always operating in reactive mode when it comes to workforce civility training.
After a potential liability incident, they realize that their training has been lacking, and they push an extensive training session program on their employees. That, or they only prioritize workforce civility training every now and then, when they seem to have the time or the right budget.
This approach tends to be ineffective and does not result in lasting change. Without consistent follow-up on civility training, participants forget what they’ve learned over time, and overall knowledge is lost as the workforce turns over.
A much better approach is to get proactive. Lay the groundwork for a sustainable workforce training plan — one that’s tailored to your organization’s changing needs and can be effective for the long-term.
To make your training more sustainable, you’ll need to find a training program that’s as comprehensive, affordable, and impactful as possible. Then, you can extend its effectiveness throughout the year with regular review and reminders of the training material.
Maximize Your Training Budget
At ELI, we’re big believers in the fact that employers should be prioritizing value over price tag when it comes to employee training.
After all, even a relatively small lawsuit settlement can dwarf the budget for annual civility training class. But even bigger costs tend to come from the overall loss of productivity that results when your employees don’t feel safe or comfortable at work. This isn’t the time to be on the hunt for a bargain.
That said, for many businesses, training can constitute a significant expense. And just like any other expense, it’s worth making sure that you don’t overpay or waste money.
For many companies, the traditional training route of hiring a live instructor might not be the most affordable training option. There are many other ways to train your workforce effectively without flying in an expert and taking up an entire day of everyone’s time at once.
As we wrote in our post on 5 Examples of Effective Civility Training, you can have great success using a virtual instructor, using a hybrid approach that blends e-learning with live instruction, or even investing in training someone on your full-time staff to train the rest of your employees.
Just how effective and affordable each of these methods is will depend on your unique needs as a company. For example, if your employees are spread out across the country in multiple time zones, flying them all in for training would be quite an expense. But if you have a relatively small, local team, it might be more expensive in the short-term to try to acquire the technology and equipment needed for a virtual instructor.
Ask potential instructors or training companies to advise you on which of their plans will work the best with your budget.
Making Sure Training is Impactful
Even the most affordable workforce training is still a waste of money if it doesn’t result in actual changes of behavior. And behavior won’t change unless the message is delivered in a way that allows students to learn it effectively.
We all know from our school days that a good teacher can make a world of difference.
The best teachers can convey a lesson in ways their students remember, and they can do it in much less time than other teachers.
Good teachers prepare carefully, tailor content to the audience’s interests, and remember to engage students in the material actively.
Although training with a live instructor is generally is the most engaging form of workplace training (especially compared to check-the-box e-learning programs), not all live trainers will be equally prepared. They won’t all have the same respect for your employees’ time or the same emphasis on active learning. Practice is a key way to help cement lessons into employees’ minds and gauge whether they’re actually retaining the lessons.
Try to hire a trainer with a depth of legal expertise that enables him or her to do things like:
- tailor content to students’ needs on the fly
- answer industry-specific questions
- address newsworthy issues relevant to the training
This can make the difference in training that feels stale (and is therefore easily forgotten) and a program that feels fresh and engaging.
Optimize Your Training Calendar
A big part of making your training more sustainable is planning your training calendar in a way that optimizes the power of each lesson.
A good training calendar makes sure that seasoned employees get refreshed on the material they already learned before they forget it, and it ensures that new employees never go too long without getting the in-depth introductory training they need. (Making sure that your employees are trained at regular intervals may actually be a legal necessity in some jurisdictions, such as in New York and California.)
A solid plan on a calendar also makes it easier to budget in advance, makes sure that your employees have plenty of time to plan around the training dates, and makes sure that the training happens at the ideal times of the month or year (avoiding busy times at work).
As far as reinforcing the lessons, that can happen in many ways.
One solution is to leverage the power of microlearning, as we wrote in our full post on the topic. With microlearning, lessons are distilled down into their essence and sent to employees in the form of short written updates, videos, or even social media posts.
Another way to reinforce training so that it stays more effective for a longer period of time is to incorporate the success of civility measures into other important office goals. Leaders should revisit civility goals along with other internal KPIs, such as sales goals or production goals.
Finally, you can hold employees accountable to remember the information that they learned and put into action by adding civility skills and progress into their regular performance reviews.
Train for All Civility Programs at Once
Different types of workplace incivility (discrimination, harassment, bullying) can seem like they each need their own dedicated education and training programs.
It’s true that employees need to know about the details of each of these issues, but it’s also true that all types of incivility tend to stem from the same core problems. Accordingly, they can be fixed by the same solutions.
Namely, teaching your employees the importance of empathetic listening and apologizing — and then teaching them how to do those things the right way — can put you well on your way to fixing all bad behavior with one comprehensive strategy.
Combining education for all bad behavior saves time, energy, and money — and it makes it easier for employees to remember and digest. It’s a huge step in making your training more sustainable.