6 reasons employers need to train employees
Friday, August 26, 2016
Employers should inherently understand the value in training managers and employees. To validate this idea, the following discussion outlines six reasons training is valuable and should be conducted on a regular basis.
1. Managers and employees must know policies and expectations
These days, employers have policies for everything. For example, to comply with employment laws, employers have Equal Employment, No Harassment, Family and Medical Leave and Reasonable Accommodation policies.
Experience shows that just having a written policy is not enough. To be truly effective, employers need to educate employees and managers about the scope, coverage and application of such policies.
2. Training improves engagement
Regardless of the substantive content, the process of training sends a clear message to employees and managers that their employer cares about them as individuals and about their professional growth. Employees and managers may feel more secure when they think their employer is investing in them.
Plus, getting employees and managers together increases social interaction between the individuals involved and helps get them aligned to support the employer's goals and expectations. As a result, employee engagement is positively affected by training. That is one reason that a robust training program is almost always a key element of any union-proofing program.
3. Training is required by some laws
Employers should have other reasons for training, but the reality is some state and federal laws actually require training. For example, certain safety training is required by OSHA and MSHA. Federal Motor Carrier Safety regulations require that drivers receive training on specific subjects.
Case law on Title VII and similar state laws make it clear that training is expected as well. States such as California require training to avoid harassment claims, and some state drug-free workplace laws require annual training.
Of course, employers need to retain documentation to prove that such training occurred to show compliance with these laws.
4. Training can prevent legal liability
By properly educating employees and managers about the employer's policies and legal requirements, employees and managers should be less likely to engage in noncompliant behavior. They will know and understand the clear limits of workplace conduct and, hopefully, stay within the lines of permitted conduct and speech. They will also know the consequences of noncompliant conduct and speech.
Additionally, not only will they likely be deterred from engaging in such conduct or speech, but workers disciplined or discharged for such violations may also be less likely to file legal actions against their employers.
5. Training can reduce risks of punitive damages
Under established case law, employers who engage in good-faith efforts to educate employees and managers will have affirmative defenses to liability and punitive damages in the event a legal complaint is filed and pursued by an aggrieved employee. So, even if a rogue individual violates an employer's policy, the employer who trained employees and then took reasonable actions to remedy the alleged violation may escape monetary liability for the rogue actor's actions.
6. Social, political and legal trends make risks of not training more costly
The risk of loss for not training employees and managers is higher today than ever. Employees are more aware of their rights and seem to be more likely to seek legal redress when they feel their rights have been violated.
It is more socially acceptable to take on one's employer, and juries seem more willing to award money to prevailing plaintiffs in the current environment.
This article lists just six compelling reasons why employers should invest time, money and resources in training managers and employees. To be sure, training clearly has value and will yield countless objective and subjective benefits to any organization.
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