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HR compliance training: 6 FAQs answered


Unfortunately, if your business has employees, incidents of discrimination and harassment may occasionally disrupt your company culture. People naturally bring their biases into the workplace – sometimes by accident, sometimes by choice.

Thorough compliance training can go a long way toward preventing these incidents. And when harassment or discrimination does happen inside the walls of your business, prior compliance training will have already helped you meet your responsibilities and manage your liability as an employer.

Here are the answers to six of the most frequently asked questions about workplace compliance training.

1. Why is it important to provide HR compliance training?

The top goal of introducing compliance training at your company is the prevention of hurtful, disruptive behaviors like harassment and discrimination. Compliance training can curtail insulting and inappropriate behavior toward targeted employees, enabling them to stay focused on their job responsibilities.

Compliance training can also help you defend your business against any charges employees file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or a similar state or local regulatory agency. Most regulatory agencies have a formal charge handling and investigation process, in which you must actively participate as the employer. By demonstrating to the EEOC or a similar regulatory agency that you actively tried to prevent harassment and discrimination at your company through employee education, you may reduce your chances of going to court.

Furthermore, compliance training promotes consistency in how discrimination and harassment are reported, documented and investigated at your company. Proper training shows your employees how to prevent organizational mistakes, such as failing to record a complaint in writing.

Be sure to document everything. Skimpy documentation regarding the contents of your training or who attended could lead to problems when trying to prove you were proactive in preventing discrimination and harassment should a regulatory charge alleging discrimination and/or harassment arise.

2. What should compliance training cover?

The most important type of HR compliance training is discrimination and harassment prevention – offer it to every employee. This type of training should tell your employees what behaviors are not allowed and how to report improper conduct. Furthermore, at the end of the training, they should understand the importance of reporting discrimination and harassment.

It’s also a good idea to provide additional, more specialized HR compliance training to your managers. Training them on interviewing and selection skills is of particular necessity for new managers, as discrimination and other pitfalls can often show up in the hiring process.

For example, some new managers don’t know the legal pitfalls of interviewing, like not asking questions designed to discover someone’s age (which could lead to an allegation of age discrimination, according to the EEOC).

Other areas to cover with all managers include:

  • Diversity in the workplace – how to interact with different personalities and cultures and approach diverse people with inclusion and respect
  • Effective employee counseling – how to appropriately observe, assess and interact with employees in ways that develop and maximize their performance
  • Fair and consistent performance appraisals – how to conduct honest assessments of employees without being biased, too lenient or too strict
  • HR fundamentals for supervisors – covers the basics of human resources to help supervisors navigate employment laws and effectively lead their staff
  • Preventing violence in the workplace – how to identify threats and have a significant role in preventing violence in the workplace
  • Substance abuse and the drug-free workplace – covers the importance of a work environment free of substance abuse and a manager’s role in preventing, recognizing signs of and reporting abuse

3. How should it be delivered?

There are two basic options for delivering compliance training to your employees:

  • Instructor-led (traditional class with one trainer and a group of your employees)
  • Virtual (WebEx meeting or a self-paced interactive course)

Instructor-led compliance training is ideal for groups of employees without computer access. It’s also nice when you want to have a better feel for your employees’ participation and engagement with the material. A live instructor will ask questions to ensure comprehension.

For companies with employees spread out across several locations, virtual compliance training is a better fit. Ensuring comprehension is more challenging with virtual training, which is why many courses include interactive knowledge checks, such as short quizzes, throughout the training so employees can show they understand the material.

4. Does it need to be tracked?

You should definitely keep track of when your employees complete compliance training to limit your risk if an incident occurs.

Capture a dated sign-in sheet from any instructor-led class you offer. For virtual training, you could develop an electronic sign-in sheet or keep records of your employees’ completion of the knowledge checks. Keep an employee’s compliance training attendance history on file as long as you keep his or her employment folder.

5. How frequently should employees go through compliance training?

Many states have laws or recommendations about how often you should require your employees and supervisors to go through harassment and discrimination prevention training. Your best bet is to research the laws in your state or consult your legal counsel.

6. How can you encourage employee participation?

Get your company’s leadership team involved.

For example, if the CEO of your company says that compliance training is something that’s “important to us,” something employees should “take seriously” or it’s a “part of our company culture,” your employees will likely be more willing to take part.

You may also consider offering an incentive for 100-percent participation. For example, throw a pizza party once everyone has completed the courses. You can also offer individual rewards, such jeans day coupons or small gifts, to employees who complete compliance training.

Implementing thorough compliance training could save your company from many costly headaches. Download our free guide to the 7 most frequent HR mistakes and how to avoid them to conduct an HR liability checkup and see what other loose ends you need to tie up.