Monday, June 7, 2010

The Four Types of Training That Should Never Be Cut

Workforce Management
The recession has put employers under attack from employees and government enforcement agencies, making four kinds of training essential. This article describes why the four are vital, and offers return-on-investment arguments for each. By Lynn D. Lieber
January 2010

Often one of the first line items to be cut from HR budgets is training, which can be perceived by high-level executives as “a good thing to do” but nonessential to their organizations in these challenging financial times. In reality, workforce training has never been more important, and it provides a stronger-than-ever return on investment.
The recession has put employers under attack by employees government enforcement agencies. Consider the following facts:
• From 2007 to the end of 2008, employment claims filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission increased by 14.5 percent, from 83,000 to 95,000.
• In 2008, retaliation claims filed with the EEOC jumped 22 percent, from 27,000 to 33,000 claims.
• The EEOC just hired 170 new investigators for intake and investigation purposes.
• Corporate counsel reported significant rises in employment disputes in the past year, with discrimination suits rising by 11 percent.
• The Department of Labor recently added of 250 new wage-and-hour field investigators—a staff increase of more than a third—along with additional new staff in the department’s Office of the Solicitor.
• In December 2008, Wal-Mart agreed to pay as much as $640 million to resolve 63 class-action lawsuits involving wage-and-hour violations across the nation.
In light of such statistics, there are four types of training that should never be cut. These programs—essential for most workforces— are training in the prevention of unlawful harassment and discrimination, prevention of workplace violence, prevention of wage-and-hour law violations and adherence to the organization’s code of conduct. There are sound return-on-investment arguments for each one.
1. Training to prevent discrimination and harassment The EEOC charge numbers cited above represent only the tip of the iceberg. They do not include harassment and discrimination charges filed with state enforcement agencies, in state courts or those related to conflicts that settle before the charges are formally filed.
In the event of a layoff, employees who are terminated might perceive that they were targeted for belonging to one of the legally protected categories, such as age, race, gender or national origin. Employees who haven’t been laid off might view filing a harassment or discrimination claim as “job security,” falsely believing that such a claim makes it impossible for an employer to terminate their employment.
The return on investment
Many courts have held that regular—generally, that means annual—harassment prevention training allows an employer to establish an affirmative defense to avoid liability in cases where the allegedly aggrieved employee has not suffered any tangible job detriment, such as a demotion or termination. (If there is a tangible employment action, such as a termination, this affirmative defense is not available.)

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