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Why is Workplace Training Important?

You have created the ultimate employee handbook for your workplace. You have intricate policies for your employees on everything from dress code to visitor safety and how to answer the telephone. Employees receive this handbook the day that they start working, and you expect them to follow it to the letter. 

Naturally, one might be annoyed when an employee is struggling to meet the expectations of workplace policies. To you they may be clear as day, but some employees may be making misstep after misstep, and it can be trying your patience.  Workplace policies are important, but they’re only an outline. To ensure that policies are effective, employees must be trained on them – how they work, what they require, and what the penalties will be for refusing to follow them. Issuing a policy with no follow-up or training is barely worth the paper that policy is printed on. Good, sound training is the best way to ensure employee compliance.

How does our firm help with workplace training? 

The Importance of Workplace Training

You train your staff on how to do their jobs properly because you would never think of not doing it. You may hire a qualified machine operator, for example, but of course you would ensure that they are well trained in how your particular machines work. If you have a data entry team, you’re going to ensure that they’re trained on your software suite, and exactly how your company manages their data.

Yet there’s an entirely different level to workplace training that exists outside of any specific job description. It involves the pieces of your workplace that all employees should know about, such as how your workplace handles human rights, accommodations, and performance management. 

These are areas that impact your entire staff, managers and employees alike, and so broad-scale training can have tremendous benefits. For example, if you do have a progressive discipline policy in place, wide-scale training is the opportunity to train all team members on that policy. What sort of warning can they expect from a minor first offence, vs. what penalties may be in place if they become repeat offenders?

In the case of human rights, each and every employee should be trained in what is, and is not acceptable, in the workplace. No matter what a person’s level of seniority, they should not be judged, harassed, excluded, or treated differently because of one of the many protected human rights grounds under the Human Rights Code. It may seem like common sense, but the frequency of human rights incidents in workplaces would indicate otherwise.

Workplace Harassment Training

While the majority of workplaces laws fall under the Employment Standards Act, Canada Labour Code (for federally-regulated workplaces), or under a collective bargaining agreement in unionized workplaces, the Occupational Health and Safety Act (the “Act”) in Ontario enforces an entirely different set of requirements on employers.

Not only are employers required to maintain a secure workplace, but that workplace must also be free from violence, harassment, and sexual harassment. The rules under this portion of the Act require employers to implement policies on these matters, review these policies regularly, investigate any violations of these policies, and yes, train employees on them as well.

An incident of harassment can be severely damaging to a workplace. Even though investigators work hard to keep things discrete, the ripple effects that follow an investigation can be substantial. Employees are often on edge and have no idea what the fallout will look like beyond any immediate decisions.

This is where training on your violence and harassment policies is paramount. All employees need to know what constitutes violence and harassment, and what sort of conduct is simply not okay (this may not be obvious!). They also need to know how to report any incidents of violence and harassment and should have a sense of how they can expect to be handled as well. 

Thorough violence and harassment training can offer employees exactly that information. The reporting step is key – employees should be equipped with the knowledge that anyone in a managerial or supervisory capacity may be responsible for dealing with an allegation of violence or harassment, and a designated reporting person (along with a back-up person in case that first person is implicated) is ideal. Without any of this training, it can be foolhardy to expect employees to follow any such policy to the letter.

How Lawyers Can Help

Think of lawyers as firefighters in this situation. Yes, when a workplace issue is ablaze, workplace lawyers can come in and help resolve the situation and/or handle any litigation. Yet if you have ever been through any fire safety training at school, you know that firefighters relish the opportunity to do preventative education, and lawyers do as well. 

Whether your team needs training in human rights, health and safety, violence and harassment, accessibility issues, or anything else that may arise, we are here to help. As workplace lawyers we understand just how serious the challenges can be without this training, and so it is truly our pleasure to help employers proactively avoid these issues.

We routinely advise workplaces throughout the Cambridge, Kitchener, and Waterloo regions and we would love to support yours as well. Please contact our office today to set up a consultation.