How To Address Seven Sensitive Topics With Online Training

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How To Address Seven Sensitive Topics With Online Training

Rochelle van Rensburg | May, 10 2021

The workplace is an environment in which people with different worldviews, communication styles, and personalities interact – differences that can be a source of conflict if employees aren’t adequately trained to handle them correctly.

Even though all employees have the right to feel safe and be treated fairly in the workplace, many workers face harassment, discrimination, or bullying every day. These behaviors cause low morale and can ultimately lead to mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, and – even worse – legal action against employers.

To protect employees and the company and ensure no sensitivity issues arise, employers should provide proper training on these sensitive subjects. To know more about employer’s mandatory training you may find it in this previous article.

Let’s take a look at what these sensitive subjects are and what employers can do to implement effective training programs to address them.

1. Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment training is vitally important as it helps employees understand what acceptable and unacceptable behavior is, and it’s a foundational step in building a respectful culture in the workplace.

Besides providing proper education for employees, it ensures that the organization is legally compliant and reduces the risk of legal action against the company.

Here are some tips to make your sexual harassment program more engaging and successful:

–  Start with a message from your CEO that the training is mandatory and compulsory. A short in-person speech or video from your CEO will set the right tone for the rest of the course.

–  Keep it positive: focus on what employees should do and not on what they shouldn’t do.

–  Train your employees to be active allies – not passive bystanders.

–  Make it clear that “we’re doing this because it’s the right thing and not because the law says we have to do it.”

2. Diversity

Diversity addresses all the unique things about employees – color, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, religion, gender, age, and how they work together.

Successful diversity training leads to employees who feel included and part of a shared effort. This naturally leads to more satisfied and loyal employees, increasing the company’s overall success and reducing hiring costs.

So how do you ensure your diversity training is effective?

Here are a few ideas to ensure successful diversity training:

–   Focus on inclusion: actively seek out and embrace different ways of solving problems.

–  Don’t use prohibitive language: adults don’t like to be told what to do, so let your staff feel they are choosing to accept each other and not being told to do so.

–  Create common goals: common goals create common bonds.

3. Bribery

It is illegal to offer or receive bribes, so organizations need to have anti-bribery policies for protection. Information regarding the anti-bribery policy must be provided to employees and management by internal communication and effective training.

Below are a few key elements of best practice when addressing bribery in your organization:

–  Follow an integrated approach to ensure employees receive consistent advice and training.

–  Implement tailored training and communication based on risk assessments of where bribery is most likely to occur.

–  Encourage staff to attend anti-bribery training and give them recognition when they complete it.

–   Allow employees to make suggestions to improve anti-bribery procedures and internal controls.

4. Unconscious bias

Unconscious or implicit bias refers to the attitudes and feelings we have towards certain groups of people we are not conscious of. While unconscious bias is not a result of malicious intent, it may cause us to judge people without realizing it.

Unconscious bias training helps employees understand and minimize unconscious bias within the company and recognize and manage their own biases.

Here are some tips to help make your unconscious bias training program more effective:

  • Implement your training over an extended period of time and allow for flexible scheduling.
    Trainees can’t overcome and manage such deeply ingrained beliefs in a single training session. Arrange training into short recurring sessions, which will provide the time and repetition required to reach meaningful change.
  • Prioritize awareness.
    Be honest and direct about the negative impacts of unconscious bias in the workplace and provide examples showing the effects. Don’t just focus on the negative side of unconscious bias; accentuate an inclusive and diverse workforce’s benefits. As soon as learners are emotionally invested in the training program, they’ll be more committed to it.
  • Teach your employees how to manage unconscious bias.
    As you discuss the steps that can be taken to manage unconscious bias, present scenarios where bias affects an employee’s decision-making and actions. Learners will relate to these examples without feeling they’re being criticized.

How To Address Seven Sensitive Topics With Online Training Program

5. Substance abuse

Workplace substance abuse affects all businesses, regardless of industry or size. Abuse results in an impaired physical and mental condition and often leads to addiction, creating personal, family, and financial problems.

Identifying and confronting suspicions of substance abuse in the workplace can be challenging and awkward. Be willing to handle suspected substance abuse in the workplace professionally and with compassion. Doing so will benefit you as an employer and help staff members to face and solve their addiction problems.

But what can you do to ensure a healthy abuse-free work environment?

Here are some tips of what you can include when creating and implementing your substance abuse policy:

–  The purpose and objectives of the substance abuse policy.

–  How to maintain confidentiality when dealing with the issue.

–  Training and reporting systems for identifying signs of substance abuse.

–  Disciplinary actions or assistance for violations.

6. Fraud

To commit fraud, it helps to have access to money and accounts, so fraud mostly takes place in accounting, accounts payable, and payroll functions. Keep in mind that your employees are one of the best sources of source prevention, but to detect and prevent fraud, they must know what to look for.

Train your employees thoroughly and follow up to ensure the training is repeated consistently. Employees must understand company policies and procedures and follow all the rules and guidelines. They must also clearly understand the repercussions of committing fraud – up to and including criminal prosecution.

Below are some internal processes you can put in place and train your employees to follow:

 –  Cross-train employees to perform basic financial functions: if only one person handles a financial process, it makes it easier for that person to commit fraud.

–  Create separate duties with built-in checks and balances: have multiple employees handle the payroll, check the books, and require multiple approvals for expenditure.

–  Train employees to perform basic internal audits.

7. Inside information

In today’s highly competitive workplace, confidentiality is vitally important. Failure to protect confidential business information can lead to illegal activity (e.g., discrimination and fraud), loss of employee trust and loyalty, and ultimately the loss of clients.

Here are some of the best ways to protect your business’s confidential information:

  • Develop written confidentiality policies and procedures.
    – Every organization should have a written confidentiality policy, and employees must follow it to protect confidential information.
  • Provide effective training.
    – A company’s employees are often the greatest risk when it comes to confidential information being leaked. Make sure your staff is familiar with company confidentiality policies and procedures by providing regular training.
  • Control access to confidential information.
    – Use firewalls, encryption, and passwords to protect your digital information. Make sure your passwords are strong and change them regularly.


Although there are sensitive topics in the workplace that are difficult to address, it is vitally important for employers to develop effective training programs for all of them. Providing employees with effective training on what these topics entail and how they should approach and handle them will lead to satisfied employees, a healthy workplace, and a more productive business.

Coggno has a wide range of online courses offering training on sensitive topics.
You can have a look at our free courses here and our course catalog here.

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