Inform. Remind. Prevent.

As April is Workplace Violence Awareness Month, it’s an appropriate time to stop and ask whether your workplace violence training is as effective as it could be.


No doubt you’ve implemented training to make sure employees understand how to avoid or defuse situations that can lead to bullying, harassment or violence.  It might take the form of an online course teaching them how to identify, report, or control undesirable behaviours in the workplace.  Or it could be a workshop using role-play to teach employees how to react in specific situations.

You have policies that define zero tolerance and outline the consequences of identified actions.  You may have even posted information around your workplace encouraging workers to identify and report specific instances.

But how confident are you that you’ve done enough?  How do you ensure your employees are constantly vigilant? That they understand what should not be tolerated?  That they’re comfortable identifying and reporting potential problems? That they’d know how to react if a violent situation erupted?

Bottom line…this topic needs to stay top-of-mind.  You need to be confident that your employees know what to do, and that they’re on board with your policies and procedures.

Training is the most common preventative method, but this could be a critical problem. Because of the way training is typically delivered, it’s likely that employees will forget most of what they learned within 30 days, putting them at a huge disadvantage in a negative situation.

Recent brain science research has identified several challenges with conventional learning, and has identified key new techniques to deliver more effective learning and information.  These techniques are ideally suited to workplace violence training, which not only requires providing knowledge, but also impacting attitudes and beliefs, and creating a culture that openly and consistently addresses potential issues.

So how do you leverage new training techniques to create a more informed, able workforce?

  • Keep the conversation going.  Bite-sized training for as little as 5 minutes each day keeps information top of mind, and helps avoid learning overload.
  • Repeat…repeat. Spacing, or the drip approach, repeatedly presents a topic with specific time gaps between each repetition, which helps embed the knowledge for the long term.
  • Ask, and ask again.  Repeated retrieval—or testing—regularly injects Q&A into learning sessions, helping people retain the correct information for longer periods of time, while helping you to understand the knowledge gaps that must be addressed.
  • Have some fun.  Gamified learning ties a tough topic to pleasurable activity, so when people recall the information they’ve learned, it triggers a positive emotional response.  Linking a tough topic with a pleasant feeling is one of the surest methods of shifting attitudes and ingraining responses.
  • Say “I do.” Confidence-based learning prompts employees to rate their confidence in the correctness of their knowledge—eliminating lucky guesses.  The more confident employees are in their knowledge, the better prepared they are to act when situations come up.

There are many examples of workplace violence and the truth is, any degree of workplace violence is unacceptable. Training programs and communications that constantly keep employees aware of the signs—and consequences—of violence, harassment and bullying will ensure that you create a proactive, positive environment. Take a minute and ask yourself, is your workplace violence training as effective as it could be?

Written by Suzanne Hyatt

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