Training relevancy is more important than ever

Written by Dean Rogers, Business Development Manager

judge hammer

Often I have discussions with my clients about making compliance training relevant to their staff. These talks generally revolve around branding, the particular scenarios used and whether this or that case study applies to their industry. Essentially, the focus is on the look and feel of the material.

The presentation is important and emphasis on that area should not be minimised, particularly as compliance training is not the highlight of an employee’s work week. The more a staff member can identify with the training, the more likely the message will stick.

Companies operating in Australia (particularly those based overseas) must pay more attention than ever to course content. A recent judgement was made in the Federal Court of Australia which focused on the legal content found in compliance courses. For those of you who are not familiar with the case (Richardson vs Oracle), it involved the sexual harassment of a female employee by her male colleague.

The defence argued that Oracle had taken all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment. Among other things it noted that the employee involved (Mr Tucker) had recently taken part in the company’s online sexual harassment training.

The judgement viewed online delivery as an acceptable method of compliance training for Oracle’s staff. However, criticism was made of the course content. As noted in the judgment, “This training was a global package which applied to Oracle employees worldwide. It was apparently designed in the USA and was said to be based on “global standards” of how to interact in a workplace.”

The international course content was not acceptable with the judgment further stating, “Amongst the criticisms available of the contents of the global online training package which Mr Tucker undertook in October 2007 are the fact that it made no reference to the legislative foundation in Australia for the prohibition on sexual harassment stated by Oracle; made no clear statement that such conduct was unlawful; and made no statement that an employer might also be vicariously liable.”

Australia has a large number of multinational corporations with sizable staff numbers in Australia. I know from first hand discussions with local staff that there is often significant pressure to implement a “one size fits all” program from their international parent. As noted by the Oracle case, this approach can backfire and leave an organisation exposed when an incident occurs.