As we approach the end of 2021, re-engaging and rebooting your learning and development programmes might seem at the bottom of the “to do” list. However, training is a great engagement tool, bringing teams together, whilst also fulfilling certain legal obligations. Whether it is legal or compliance training, manager essential courses, wellbeing discussions or enhancing leadership skills, there are many different options and topics available. Many employers do not know where to start; however, now is a really good time to adopt a training culture within your business and think about using training in a different way. Emma O’Connor, Director and Head of HR Training, explains more.
As we approach the end of 2021, re-engaging and rebooting your learning and development programmes might seem at the bottom of the “to do” list. However, training is a great engagement tool, bringing teams together, whilst also fulfilling legal obligations. Emma O’Connor, Legal Director and Head of HR Training, has been working with a number of organisations to support their return to work programmes. Whether it is legal or compliance training, manager essential courses, wellbeing discussions or enhancing leadership skills, there are many different options and topics available. Many employers do not know where to start; however, now is a really good time to adopt a training culture within your business and think about using training in a different way.
“Talent that trains with us, stays with us.”
Training fulfils many roles from knowledge transfer to learning new skills. But training can be used in other ways which can support a business’s return to work and people strategies providing a different people focus – as well as provide possible legal defences.
The importance of Equality and Diversity Training
For example, my colleague Claire Taylor-Evans recently wrote Post Pandemic recovery - why a Diveristy and Inclusion strategy is essential to your business' success, putting equality and diversity at the heart of your post-pandemic recovery strategy can have a positive impact on your workplaces. The lockdowns have widened the gender pay gap and hit women particularly hard, forcing some to leave employment altogether. Our young people too have been impacted with reported redundancies higher in younger age groups.
Raising issues of equality and diversity, can help push the "reset button" putting the issues of inclusion back on the agenda – particularly, as we think about working in a more hybrid way. How will work be distributed amongst those present and those who are virtual? What could the implications be – both legal and culturally - if we slip unknowingly into an “out of sight, out of mind” mind-set? How does hybrid working suit the different generations – is it too simplistic to think that remote working suits our tech-savvy generation-X best?
Legally, the importance of equality training should not be underestimated. In the 2021 case of Allay (UK) Limited v Gehlen the court set out the importance of equality training in itself but more importantly the implications of not keeping this training regularly refreshed and updated. Done correctly, an effective equality strategy which includes training, regular refresher training updates, monitoring of its effectiveness, could allow an employer to use the statutory defence in an employment tribunal claim for discrimination or harassment.
Question: Could your organisation effectively run a statutory defence to a discrimination or harassment allegation? Be honest.
We read a lot about the “great resignation”, recruitment issues and post lockdown “retention wars”. Certain parts of the labour market are in flux. It is an unsettling time with some of your people thinking “is the grass a little greener working over there…?”.
People leave businesses for many different reasons, but one that is often cited is development and not feeling invested in as an employee or leader. Staff who are invested in feel more valued, more engaged and if you are more engaged, you are more productive – and less likely to leave. You get the picture.
We again find ourselves in a time of uncertainty, not least your people. Wellness sessions and webinars are another great way to engage with the wider employee population – live Q+As, discussions about the challenges of returning to work on an emotional level, show a business is alert to the issues some of your people may be experiencing.
Also, businesses can use their people and development programmes as a benefit in their recruitment processes: “work for us, we invest in our people” or “talent that trains with us, stays with us”. The market is a difficult one for many sectors and if salary isn’t the driver, what else can businesses offer to be attractive to candidates? Think of training as part of your recruitment toolbox and ask colleagues for testimonials as to how a development programme has helped them with their career pathway. Your people are often your best salespeople.
If your business does not embrace training and development, your competitors will.
Training is an investment. Yet with technology, training can be delivered in many different ways and formats from face-to-face meetings to pre-recorded modules.
However you train, better skilled people are often more confident and have a better grasp not just of their jobs but of your business, sector or customer.
Your management population may be being asked to manage in a different way, but do they have the tools to be able to manage remote or hybrid teams? Is there a danger that people will get lost in a maze of online calls? Can leaders manage more effectively and by way of example? Training can give managers the tools and confidence to spot HR issues early, raising concerns rather than letting issues fester. Teams feel better communicated with as positive messaging passes up and down the line. Teams can cross-train each other, another benefit.
An initial investment could pay dividends.
Training is more than people in a room or a “tick box” exercise, it is about getting together and sharing ideas. Teams can learn from each other, managers can share experiences, and HR can discuss similar Employee Relations concerns leading to best practice across the business being developed.
If some of you are struggling to think of a purpose to come to the workplace then let training be it. Training can bring people together to look ahead at issues, away from the transactional nature of our meetings.
It is not just equal opportunities or harassment cases where training can assist the business in litigation. There are other examples of training which can help businesses spread the message of compliance. For example, we have recently trained businesses in the following areas:
Anti-bribery and Corruption
Business Immigration – complying with Right to Work Check obligations
Retaining your Sponsorship Licence
Data protection and managing subject access requests
IR35 – managing Status Determination Statements
If these are areas where your managers and HR teams could benefit from a refresher course, focusing on the red flags and curve balls, then get in touch.
Call to action
When was the last time your organisation provided any people training? When was this refreshed? Training must be engaging, relevant and interesting to ensure that employees take on board the points and understand the purpose of the session and why it is important to them AND the business. Employers must think about training not in isolation but together as a cohesive message where policies, training and awareness all complement one another as part of a wider message and purpose.
Time to think about training? Get in touch. As part of the HR Training Academy, we regularly run compliance, equality and leadership training for Boards, HR, managers and employee populations. We have online, virtual sessions or pre-recorded awareness modules to suit time and budget. For a full list of courses available or to share ideas speak to me, Emma O’Connor Director and Head of Training, via [email protected]
There has never been a better time to talk about training.
Consistent with our policy when giving comment and advice on a non-specific basis, we cannot assume legal responsibility for the accuracy of any particular statement. In the case of specific problems we recommend that professional advice be sought.