Focus on Training in 2011

2011 should be the year in which all companies renew their commitment to training employees. Specifically, all employees should be trained on important company policies, such as the anti-harassment and discrimination policies, and human resources employees and supervisors should be trained on consistently problematic topics such as performance management, accommodating disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act and leaves under the Family and Medical Leave Act and similar state laws.

Although the new year’s budgets might not be what they were pre-recession, training is a cost-effective way to reduce costs associated with employee complaints and litigation. Training can also help companies increase productivity and employee retention, both of which have a positive impact on revenues. For example, anti-harassment and discrimination training, when conducted company-wide, can improve morale, reduce distracting and unlawful conduct in the workplace, and provide an affirmative defense to claims. Similarly, training directed to human resources and supervisory employees on topics like performance management, leaves, and accommodation of disabilities can have a positive impact on performance, attendance, and the potential for claims.

This week the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported a 7% increase in claims in 2010 over 2009. The highest number of claims alleged retaliation, with race, gender, disability and age discrimination claims following in order. The statistical information further reveals that both retaliation and disability claims are on the rise. Although commentators can speculate as to the reasons for the overall and specific claims increases, the fact remains that these are claims employers must continue to work to prevent.

In addition to establishing clear and “user-friendly” policies, employers can help improve conduct, provide guideposts for compliance with the laws, and increase consistency in application of policies and decision making concerning employees, as well as ultimately reduce claims and costs, by training their employees. Why not start now?

To discuss your company’s training needs, contact any attorney in the Gibbons Employment & Labor Law Department. And watch for more posts on training and information about exciting new Gibbons educational programs on this blog.

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