How Training Can Prevent Many Legal Issues

How Training Can Prevent Many Legal Issues

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In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “an investment in knowledge pays the best interest”. In other words, corporate training, aka the process of investing in the knowledge of both the employees and the employer, is shown to have a positive return for the business. Training sits at the core of your growth strategy and profitability.

As of 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor revealed that companies with 100 to 500 employees provided no more than 6 minutes of manager training every 6 months. It’s the equivalent of 1 minute of training per month. So, it is no wonder that many employees name their manager as the number one reason for quitting. Untrained managers are harmful to the business, affecting not only their teams but also the overall business productivity and growth potential.

Employees are not averse to training. On the contrary, almost 75% of workers admit that lack of training is preventing them from achieving their full potential in the workplace. Failure to support the professional development of your staff is self-destructive in the business environment. Employees are unable to provide the quality output that is expected of them. The consequences can be disastrous, ranging from a loss in productivity to unhappy customers.

But when things go wrong, the business can also face debilitating legal consequences. Customers and former employees have a way to voice out their discontentment by asking for legal retribution. Being sued as a business can go much further than receiving a fine:

  • Loss of credibility
  • Loss of reputation
  • Increasing debt
  • Resignation waves
  • Loss of investment
  • Loss of revenue

So how can training prevent issues that would otherwise be resolved in a court of law? More often than not, training can serve multiple purposes. While it may not necessarily provide a solution for a specific issue, it can equip the participant with the ability to:

  • Recognize threats and problems before they arise
  • Assess a situation to react accordingly
  • Avoid risks and ineffective responses
  • Follow a legally acceptable and commonly agreed course of actions
  • Act in the best interest of the business in the long term

Here are some cases where training can make a huge difference.

Better HR understanding

There is no such thing as a perfect business model. Issues are likely to occur at different levels. Strikes are the most popular response to disagreement in the business environment. Yet, while striking expresses disagreement, it typically affects issues that don’t include misuse of the law. When a manager fails to understand how to proceed legally with human resource management, employees and former employees are in a strong position to sue their employers. Employees suing for HR problems often make the same observation: The employer acts rashly and unfairly because they have no knowledge of their HR responsibilities.

This is the case, for instance, in the event of unfair dismissal. If an employer has not received suitable HR training, they are at risk of terminating employment contracts inappropriately. This could be, for instance, by firing an employee under the premise that there is no need for their role, yet they could be seeking to recruit for the same role soon after.

Ability to better perform in a crisis

Crises happen unexpectedly and can require a rapid response. However, it is in the nature of crises to be stressful. They are problems that get out of control fast and need a cool head and strong skills to be resolved.

Crises can occur in a variety of business sectors. Without training, they can tear the business reputation and credibility. But, more importantly, a crisis can not just cost money; it can also have dramatic consequences for your customers.

If a doctor panicked in the middle of a medical emergency, the patient could sustain a serious injury or even lose their life. While panic would be a normal response in any other condition, for doctors, it could be perceived as a medical mistake. In this instance, the patient or their family could sue the healthcare provider for compensation.

Can you train for crisis situations? The answer is yes. Businesses can find simulation training solutions such as medical simulation that are adapted to the current demand. Simulation scenarios are designed to train employees and students to face different cases without real-life risks. As a result, they can develop their competencies safely and confidently. They can also use simulation training to create a guideline response to address new potential issues.

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Avoiding technology confusion

The average employee spends between 8 and 12 hours using workplace technology. From reading emails on their laptop to logging customer data, technology is part of everyday tasks. As more and more tech-related tasks are time-demanding, employers consider automated solutions to save time and effort. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as smart and frictionless automation. Indeed, less than 30% of employees who expect their role to be automated in some way receive the training they need.

Lack of training in tech tools can have serious consequences. Employees may find that using automated tools ends up costing them more time than if they didn’t use tools in the first place. Additionally, confusion and lack of practice can lead to mistakes. Employees could inadvertently expose confidential data or put customers at risk. Did you know that data breaches are often the result of human error, such as misuse of technology? Unfortunately, customers and partners are entitled to claim financial loss or emotional distress for data breaches. The process can be expensive, especially if the mistake has affected many customers.

Some businesses have even been forced to consider bankruptcy because they could not meet the financial requests. Shutting down is a high price to pay for something that could have been avoided through a day of technology training.

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Avoid unconscious bias and inadequate behaviors

Human behavior is biased. Indeed, many choices and decisions may appear rational at first glance, but they can hide an unconscious bias. The problem with biases is that they are deeply anchored into human evolution and culture. The brain is trained to make a judgment on a situation through accumulating data and comparing it with other known experiences. As a result, when there is no time to ponder, people can unknowingly revert to stereotypes to speed up their thinking process. It is an unconscious phenomenon and one that people have no control over unless they are made aware of it.

So how frequent are biases in the workplace? Unlike discrimination, which is more obvious, bias can be more subtle. For example, an employer may choose against an older applicant who is better qualified for the job for the benefit of a younger person because they assume that older people are less capable of performing. According to a study, almost 4 in 10 employees report experiencing bias at the workplace regularly. Employees can resort to taking legal action for discrimination when they are affected by unconscious biases.

It is important to make a distinction. Discrimination and bias may feel the same to the victim. However, when it comes to the perpetrator, discrimination can be a conscious decision, while a biais is totally unconscious. Therefore, it is important to help your employees reconsider their behaviors to avoid biases in the workplace. Receiving dedicated training can help your team:

  • Question their response and behavior
  • Review their reasoning
  • Increase bias awareness
  • Break the cycle
  • Empathize a rational message
  • Build better and stronger work relationships

Biases can occur at any step of the business operations and can affect potential work candidates, existing employees, customers, and even partners.

When someone’s fault or communication leads to emotional distress

Individuals can sue a business for causing emotional distress. While the law isn’t entirely clear on what type of situation can be acceptable for a legal case, it is important to understand that emotional distress takes a significant toll on the victim’s mental health due to a fault committed by the business.

When it comes to mental health, the distress caused is not quantifiable. However, a lawyer will consider communication, medical reports, and a symptom diary to establish the case. For instance, if an employee has been wronged and experiences emotional and physical symptoms that have been recorded and even communicated to the business, a lawyer may want to suggest suing for emotional distress.

When does emotional distress occur? For example, situations such as using inadequate communication with an employee or a customer could lead to a malaise for the victim. Even if the outcome regarding the interaction with the employee or customer is legally acceptable, if the method used to reach it has caused emotional distress, it could backfire on the company.

Therefore, training courses to improve communication skills and help your team to sympathize with the other person’s perspective can be highly useful.

In conclusion, it is time to diversify corporate training needs. Role-based skills are essential as part of day-to-day business activities. However, dedicated training is necessary to prevent rash decisions, inadequate technology use, ineffective and counterproductive communication, stress blinding, and invisible bias. Mistakes happen, and they tend to be the result of poor knowledge and practice. Equipping your staff with the tools they need to support business growth begins with a training plan.

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