Why does POSH Training Fail?
Seven years since Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (POSH Act) came into effect, Indian organizations have seen a surge in the number of sexual harassment complaints. This is not really positive considering these organizations spend their time and resources to sensitise their employees on the Act. Does it mean that these POSH trainings are not working? Have a look at a few reasons why POSH trainings fail.
Limiting the Legal Liability
A major reason POSH training fails is because many employers consider it as a tick-in-the-box. Employers, sometimes, just want to make sure that they do not have any legal liability if anything unfortunate happens in the organization. Because of this, they are not really worried about the quality or frequency of training. Employees easily pick up the employer’s attitude. When they realize that their employer is not serious about it, they would not be motivated to attend the training or take away anything meaningful from it.
Irrelevant Examples and Scenarios
The examples and scenarios used during some of the POSH trainings are generic and irrelevant to the employees. Experience of a warehouse employee will be different from that of an IT employee and so the examples should reflect the learners’ experiences. Additionally, many a time harassing behaviour can be very subtle and difficult to be noticed by others. Generic POSH trainings use the most obvious scenarios as examples, which very rarely occur in organizations. When employees cannot relate to the content in the training, it will not work. Check out our customizable eLearning courses on POSH.
Too Legal Can Be Problematic
The POSH Act gives a clear definition of what is sexual harassment. But there are also other inappropriate behaviours that the law does not mention. When the training focuses only on what the law says, employees get the message that inappropriate behaviours not mentioned in the Act are excused.
While it is necessary that every employee knows the definition of sexual harassment, they should also learn that any kind of rude comments or offensive behaviour in the workplace is wrong. It can also be problematic when trainings emphasize that the law protects only women. This may send the message that it might be okay to harass the other genders. When a change in the behaviour is expected, training should go beyond what the law says.
Frequency of the Training
This connects to the first point. A one-hour POSH training once in a year as a check-in-the box will not a make any difference. For the training to start showing difference it should be conducted several times in a year. Higher the frequency of training, better the retention.
Talks Only About Don’ts
Some POSH trainings focus on offensive behaviors and what should not be done in organizations. This will induce fear in people to interact with co-workers. They would start avoiding interactions with people different from them to prevent getting into trouble. Trainings that talk only about the inappropriate behaviour and their consequences create awkward relationship between co-workers. Employees should also be informed about responsible and respectful behaviours.
Training is only for employees
If an organization insists only the employees to undergo training, this sends a message that leaders and those in power are immune to disciplinary actions and the law when they behave disrespectfully to the employees. This shows the organization’s biased towards those in power and lack of seriousness about the law.
First steps towards the success of any initiative in an organization is a modification in the organization’s culture to accommodate new policies. Conducting numerous POSH training will not making a positive impact if the organization fails to treat those from minority groups right or hire females. Training of any kind is effective only if the management is committed to the cause and employees feel that everybody has an equal role in making a change. It is the same for creating a safe and harassment-free workplace.