Sexual Harassment Training: Attract more prospects and protect your system
You might be thinking, “Really? How in the world can sexual harassment training sell franchises?”
Before I answer that, let’s get some perspective on sexual harassment training. The reality is that every business in this country must provide it to their employees. Yet most companies don’t. The same can be said of franchisors, which should be providing sexual harassment training to their franchisees. When they don’t, they take huge risks as they will be in violation of government regulations. And if harassment occurs, they will suffer from a huge public uproar, negative publicity, and can be forced to pay punitive damages that can be very substantial.
Yet most businesses ignore these risks.
Requiring that your franchisees provide excellent sexual harassment training is imperative for doing—and staying in—business today. As a franchisor, make it crystal clear to your franchisees that this is part of effectively and properly running their business.
Requiring sexual harassment training for franchisees, managers, and employees assures that everyone in your franchise system, from top to bottom, is acting as a good brand steward (in addition to protecting your franchise from legal peril).
So how can sexual harassment training help you sell more franchises? Because when a potential franchisee knows that you’re taking it seriously, they’re going to be much more interested in buying your franchise. Knowing that you offer this training assures them that you are taking effective steps to protect your franchise—and the locations they are looking to own.
Protect your business
We all know (or should!) that the law requires you to require employees to take sexual harassment training. We also know that doing so will protect your company from lawsuits. A growing number of smart company leaders realize that sexual harassment training delivers additional benefits that include higher levels of employee satisfaction, better retention, and the ability to attract better job applicants and franchisees.
Yet, most companies neglect these realities and offer sexual harassment training only begrudgingly, or not at all. These companies are taking an immense legal risk, fostering a hostile environment, and are probably losing good employees in the bargain. If a current or former employee brings charges against you and there is a lawsuit, you will be at risk for massive punitive damages if you have not properly provided and documented training.
It’s nice to think this could never happen in your company. Yet it happens all the time in more companies than you expect, and it is naive to believe your company is immune.
As noted, federal and state regulations require you to provide sexual harassment training to all your employees. Some states have specific laws that require it be done in a certain way. If someone brings legal action against your organization, you will be in a stronger position to defend your company if you have required all supervisors and other employees to complete sexual harassment training. This alone should convince you to invest in it.
More than just legal protection
There are many more reasons that requiring all your employees to take sexual harassment training pays you back:
- You demonstrate to your employees that you care about their well-being and security. You are doing more than just saying that you care about them, you are putting your good intentions into action by investing in a healthier and happier workplace.
- You enhance your ability to recruit new employees because you become known as a more enlightened and modern place to work. When you explain to potential new employees that you have no tolerance for harassing or abusive behaviors, you become an employer of choice, an enterprise where people want to work.
- You discourage potential harassers and take a proactive step toward building a happier and more secure workplace because your training will alert them to specific behaviors, words, and attitudes they should avoid. Be aware that not all sexual harassers set out to harass or threaten others. Some are simply unaware of certain attitudes, words, and behaviors that create an environment that is threatening or offensive to others. Your training can raise their awareness about what they should—and should not—do.
What should be included?
Quality sexual harassment training should be engaging, interactive, and scenario-based. It’s also important to provide the proper context in a way that is effective for adult learning, as well as to understand what words and behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable.
Given that the time requirements are generally one hour for an employee and two hours for a manager a year, boring training is ineffective. E-learning for sexual harassment training, if done well, is an effective way to train your entire staff; and as you hire new people you can train them one at a time.
In this way you will not only be training everyone, you will also be documenting that this training has taken place.
Are you ready?
Make it your highest priority to begin providing sexual harassment training in your franchise. Once you do, you will soon discover that doing so was one of the smartest steps you have ever taken on behalf of your franchise.
Evan Hackel, a 35-year franchising veteran, is CEO of Tortal Training, a leading training development company, and principal and founder of Ingage Consulting. He is a speaker, author of Ingaging Leadership, and host of “Training Unleashed,” a podcast covering training for business. Contact him at evanspeaksfranchising.com, follow him at @ehackel, or call 781-820-7609.
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