Employee Training to Help Prevent Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Designing Digitally


Employee Training to Help Prevent Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Sexual harassment in the workplace has been an issue for years. Until 2017 when the Me Too movement exploded, most sexual harassment acts and assaults went undeclared, undetected, and unpunished. This was mainly due to the fear of backlash that employee victims might feel. Thanks to this movement, many victims came forward and admitted to being harassed by a coworker, manager, or someone higher up the ladder.

Unfortunately, despite various activist groups, managers, and employees’ constant efforts, sexual harassment is still a real issue for many staff members. The good news is that, following the #MeToo movement, organizations worldwide started implementing regulations to fight against sexual harassment at work.

One efficient way of teaching your staff about avoiding, detecting, and denouncing workplace sexual harassment is through training. Sexual harassment employee training can be done in a traditional classroom environment, through online learning platforms, or by creating a custom training module for your specific employee needs.

What Is Sexual Harassment?

The term sexual harassment has become an umbrella term for various inadequate behaviors at work. The U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EOEC) defines workplace sexual harassment as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.” These acts would “explicitly or implicitly affect an individual’s employment, unreasonably interfere with an individual’s work performance, or create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.”

If you feel uncomfortable at work because of a coworker or boss, the logical step is to file a complaint. But, many people have no idea how to react, what the protocol is for such a situation, and sometimes don't even recognize or expect sexual innuendo at the job. Thus, developing effective sexual harassment prevention training can be tricky.

Still, employee training has become essential in a volatile global economy in which companies hire people from all over the world. The rise of the gig economy and anywhere work culture is kickstarting new methods for approaching sexual harassment in the workplace.

Benefits of Online Sexual Harassment Training

It might seem counterintuitive to conduct sexual harassment training online. But, this way of handling such a sensitive subject might just be more efficient than a traditional classroom setting.

First off, employees could feel intimidated to express themselves freely in a classroom environment, especially if they have experienced abuse in the workplace. In an online context, victims of workplace harassment could feel safer in sharing their experiences and teaching others what they have learned.

Another advantage of teaching your staff about workplace harassment over an online medium is that they can learn at their own pace, anytime, and from anywhere. This easy accessibility feature of online training allows learners to retake each module as many times as needed and come back to the training whenever they need their knowledge refreshed.

From a professional, financial, and legal standpoint, offering accessible sexual harassment training is a must. A well-developed online training class enables all employees to study the same subject matter and pass on a homogenous chunk of information that puts everyone on the same page.

You can also track course progress and learning results much easier when using an online training module. You'll be able to see exactly how each employee is advancing through the training levels, where they're getting stuck, and what learning outcomes result at the end of the course.

Tips for Creating an Online Training Course

Creating the right employee training module depends on a few essential factors. The first is outlining a comprehensive definition of what sexual harassment in the workplace can mean. Taking the EOEC guidelines and combining them with data from an employee survey can help you create an outline.

An eLearning instructional designer, subject matter expert (SME), and employee training developer can all help build a custom online training solution. The course delivery type can vary, depending on the knowledge and skills of your workforce and learner needs. Microlearning, Virtual or Augmented Reality (VR, AR), gamification, or serious games are all valid delivery methods you can use to create a training course on sexual harassment in the workplace.

Here are some essential steps you can take to guide you in developing a solid training module: 

  1. Start with a plan

It's always easier to start something from scratch when you have an outline laid out to follow. This outline doesn't need to be rigid. Flexibility is a must when developing learning courses because you'll want to change course elements, content chunks and improve learner interactions.

The following items can become bullet points in your plan for developing an efficient training program. Use the EOEC guidelines as a starting point when deciding what to include in your curriculum.

  1. Survey your staff

Asking your staff is always a good idea. You can send out a survey to get a clear picture of what employees know about sexual harassment in the workplace. Careful not to include questions that might be considered too sensitive, like "Have you ever been sexually assaulted in the workplace?". It's ok to ask what people think about sexual harassment at work, but getting too personal might make your employees uncomfortable.

  1. Consult the experts

As mentioned, SMEs and instructional designers can be invaluable during online training development. These professionals have the experience, knowledge, and know-how to take your e-course from zero to hero. 

  1. Think of design

Your course’s structure, interactivity, and visual design are essential in determining the level of engagement your learners will display. Make sure your design elements are consistent with the overall look you are trying to achieve. This will keep later changes to a minimum and make navigation easier for users in the long run.

  1. Choose your content carefully

This is easy enough to accomplish, considering the subject matter. Start with the EOEC guidelines, include insights from your employee survey, and leave space for editing.

  1. Deploy for testing

Before deploying the final version of your sexual harassment prevention course, you can have a control group test each training module. Based on the feedback you get, you can then add or remove content, change levels around, and fix any bugs in the software that your testers discover.

  1. Run and Repeat

It's time to run the 1.0 version of your employee training. Make sure you have key performance indicators (KPIs) set in place to correlate any data you gather after the course ends. After the first iteration, you'll be better equipped to make the necessary changes, add interactions or content, and chisel your training course for maximum efficiency.


Every employee needs to learn what they should or should not do when confronted with any type of sexual assault in the workplace. Putting together an effective sexual harassment prevention course requires thought, resources, and having the right development team—many benefits of running an online training course deal with such a sensitive but important subject. Training your staff and helping them develop their soft and hard skills will ultimately benefit your entire company.

If you are interested in talking with our team about your training needs, book a time that is best for you through our online calendar.