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Why Pivot to In-Person Supervisory Harassment Prevention Training

In-Person Interactive Training

In today's fast-paced, technology-driven world, where virtual communication has become the norm, the importance of in-person interactions cannot be overstated. This holds especially true when it comes to supervisory harassment prevention training. While online e-Learning courses have their merits, there is a unique and irreplaceable value in conducting such training sessions in person. In this blog post, we will delve into the six reasons why instructor-led (in-person) supervisory harassment prevention training is invaluable for organizations.

(1) Building a Culture of Respect

In-person training offers an opportunity to foster a culture of respect and inclusion within the workplace. When supervisors gather in a physical setting outside their everyday environment, they are more likely to engage deeply in discussions and exercises that emphasize the importance of treating all employees with dignity and respect. The interpersonal dynamics of face-to-face interaction make it easier for participants to empathize with their colleagues' experiences, ensuring that the message of respect resonates on a personal level. It is impossible to have this rich interaction with an e-Learning module.

(2) Enhanced Engagement and Understanding

One of the key advantages of in-person training is the level of engagement and interaction it encourages. Participants can ask questions, share their experiences, and engage in real-time discussions with both the trainer and their peers. This active participation not only deepens their understanding but also facilitates the exchange of ideas and best practices among supervisors. There are many nuances with illegal discrimination that simply cannot be learned online.

Online trainer providers also struggle to keep current with the ever changing laws, court decisions and agency actions at both the state and federal level. As an example: California is now considering “caste” as a protected characteristic in 2024 along with two new protections for 2023, including reproductive health decision making and bereavement leave. These are in addition to the many protections that are already protected in California alone. Making this more cumbersome for companies with locations in multiple states, how can an e-Learning provider design a program that includes them all?

For companies with diverse populations and languages, the issue is compounded exponentially. Not only does the company need to identify an e-Learning provider that offers the languages of the workforce, the cultural norms must be addressed in this training. This is where e-Learning breaks down in providing uniform training throughout an organization. Organizations are then left to finding disparate sources and providers to accomplish their training goal.

(3) Real-Life Scenarios and Role-Playing

In-person training provides a platform for real-life scenarios and role-playing exercises that simulate workplace situations. These simulations allow supervisors to practice responding to potential harassment issues in a safe and controlled environment. They receive immediate feedback, refine their interpersonal skills, and gain the confidence to handle such situations effectively when they arise in the workplace. This practical experience is invaluable for ensuring that supervisors are well-prepared to address questionable behavior, something that e-Learning cannot cover.

(4) Non-Verbal Communication

Effective communication is at the core of harassment prevention. In an in-person setting, participants can hone their non-verbal communication skills, such as body language and tone of voice. Most experts There have been a number of studies on the complex topic of nonverbal communication with varying results. However, most experts agree that 70-93% of all communication is non-verbal. They can better understand how their own non-verbal cues may impact others and learn to recognize signs of discomfort or distress in their colleagues. These nuances are often lost in online training, where participants may not have the same level of visual and auditory cues.

(5) Gauge Knowledge and Accountability

In-person training sessions provide a unique opportunity to gauge someone’s knowledge and application of the knowledge to a situation versus their test-taking ability with an online course. Very few harassment situations happen “online,” so why are we relying on online coursework to handle the delicacies of the matter? Surprisingly, just days after a learner goes through online training, very little of the content has left an impression strong enough to remember what to do. Their response to most situations, “contact HR.” The connections formed during in-person training can foster a sense of responsibility towards each other and the organization. This sense of shared commitment is a powerful motivator for supervisors to actively prevent and address questionable behavior.

(6) Return on Investment

Many organizations have opted for e-learning to fulfill compliance requirements because it is viewed as easier and more cost effective, the reality is e-Learning is actually costing organizations more in the long term. Companies receiving online learning have an increased risk of reported complaints at the state or federal levels. Most are due to a leader’s lack of understanding of the issue and its impact on the company. Even a meritless complaint takes hours of staff time and outside legal expenses. In the short term, the cost for instructor-led learning is just a fraction higher than e-Learning ($35 per course versus $50).

Tip: Validate Within Your Organization

The aforementioned rationale likely makes sense to any reader; however, validate that it makes sense for an organization. Below are four simple actions to take:

  • Identify those who have completed e-Learning over one month ago.

  • Validate their knowledge: Develop some questions to personally ask a sampling of supervisors:

- Can you give me an example of what a hostile environment?

- Name a few legally protected characteristics?

- How might illegal discrimination show up at work?

  • Identify application of knowledge: Create some “what would you do scenarios” and listen how they’d respond.

  • Because many supervisors have been through training many times, ask them about the most memorable and impactful harassment prevention training they received.

This internal research can validate that e-Learning is either effective or not effective as it should and provides key insight in how to proceed.


When it comes to one of the most litigated issues for employers, don't check the box saying "we've done it." Instead, dive in and be sure your training is delivering long-term results for your organization.

As a viable alternative to biennial training, we recommend alternating between instructor-led training for one biennial cycle of training and online training for the second cycle, which allows leaders to receive highly interactive training every 4 years. As the biggest compliance risk for organizations, newly promoted leaders should always receive instructor-led training.

While online training has its place in the modern workforce, the value of instructor-led supervisory harassment prevention training cannot be overstated. It creates an environment where supervisors can engage deeply, practice real-life scenarios, and build essential interpersonal skills. Moreover, it fosters a culture of respect, trust, and accountability that is crucial for preventing harassment in the workplace. As organizations strive to create safe and inclusive environments for their employees, investing in in-person supervisory harassment prevention training remains a wise and invaluable choice.

Note: Talent Authority training specialists have been delivering harassment prevention training for over 25 years. Our supervisory content is focused on the legally-mandated training requirements while also covering the supervisors role in creating an environment of respect and inclusion. Contact Jeffrey Hull or 833-People1 (833-736-7531 x700) to learn more.


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