Employee trainings can come in all shapes and sizes. Just like when shopping for a new vehicle, there are many decisions to consider. The size (compact or SUV) is like the size of your organization. How many employees do you need HR trainings for? What about the year (newest model or the ol’ reliable from 2019)? This is like the year that your training was made. Is it from the 90s? Or is it made with today’s workplace and remote-work challenges in mind?

From maintaining a healthy workplace culture, to – making some improvements – either way, the right trainings for HR teams should remove some of the legwork for them, be aligned with your unique business needs, and oh yah – be effective.

While there are many employee trainings like Harassment Prevention, Data Protection, and Code of Conduct to name a few, today we’re going to deep-dive into sensitivity training for employees.

What is employee sensitivity training?

Employee sensitivity training, often part of a greater Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program, is training that helps employees be more aware of how their behavior and attitudes affect others, especially those with different backgrounds, identities, communication styles, and experience.

A lesson on Accessibility from Ethena’s Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion training

The ultimate goals of sensitivity training are to:

  • Prevent harassment and discrimination
  • Give employees the resources they need to support and celebrate one another
  • Build a more inclusive, respectful workplace

Depending on where you’re looking for training, you’ll likely see a large (often total) overlap of subject-matter between “Sensitivity Training” and “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion/Diversity and Inclusion Training.” If you’ve taken a comprehensive Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training before, you’ve likely already learned the majority of the lessons in a typical sensitivity training, because both courses share a lot of the same goals – i.e. making workplaces more respectful and inclusive of others.

However, many DEI training courses cover a wider range of topics than a sensitivity training typically would, so you’re more than covered if you implement a good DEI training program for your sensitivity training needs.

Why is employee sensitivity training important?

Let’s start with the obvious: we all deserve to be respected, included, and valued at work (and in our daily lives). But, as humans trying to live life and do our jobs, we’re prone to make assumptions or mistakes that negatively affect the people around us – in more ways than one. Sometimes we’re unaware of certain biases we may have, and employee sensitivity training can make us self aware of some of these. Taking real steps to educate ourselves on a regular basis is simply the right thing to do, and sensitivity training is one of those steps.

Beyond being the coolest, most educated, and empathetic versions of ourselves, sensitivity training has several directly positive effects on an organization’s bottom line. Let’s break this down a bit . . .

How does sensitivity training in the workplace help businesses?

A business that invests in sensitivity training, as well as other Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives, is highly likely to see a number of major, long-term benefits.

Companies that invest in these programs create workplaces that people want to join and stay in for the long haul. They attract top talent more than their competitors, and things like greater gender diversity and BIPOC leadership representation retain employees more than companies with less diversity.

Additionally, sensitivity training gives employees better communication skills, especially in a diverse workplace, where teams are more innovative and solve problems faster. Plus, when everyone communicates and collaborates with respect, they foster an environment where incidents of discrimination and harassment are fewer and farther between (the reality of the situation is, harassment won’t go away completely, but you can choose how to prepare for it). And in safe and inclusive work environments, employees are:

Tips on what to look for when reviewing online sensitivity training for employees

If you’re familiar with Ethena, you’ve likely heard us say “not all courses on the same topic are made equal,” and the same is true for sensitivity training. So, if you’re someone sifting through search results for sensitivity training with no idea where to start, we have a few things to keep an eye out for when looking for training that meets the needs of your organization.

What topics do they cover?

Whether or not you’re searching for sensitivity training to solve a specific issue at your organization, you need to make sure your sensitivity (or DEI) training covers some important and specific topics.

Some major course topics you should look for are, in no particular order:

  • Bias and Unconscious/Implicit Bias
  • Microaggressions
  • Identity and Intersectionality
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Fundamentals
  • Allyship
  • Disability Inclusion
  • Manager-specific course topics, like Gendered Feedback

But best-in-class sensitivity training will likely provide additional, relevant topics such as:

  • DEI in the Remote/Hybrid Workplace
  • Discussing Politics at Work
  • Ageism
  • Religious Inclusivity
  • Understanding Privilege

If you can, sample training content where you can find it. Chances are we’ve all been witness to some less-than-engaging training sessions in the past, so it’s best to evaluate for yourself if you think the training feels relevant and accessible for your team.

How do they measure success?

Depending on how you choose to present training for your team (online, in-person, etc.), you’ll want to be conscious about how to measure the effectiveness of a sensitivity training session. A short caveat: the impact of sensitivity training is inherently woven into an organization’s larger Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion goals, which are measured more in the long-term and not limited to the success of a training program. If you’re looking for more insight on, check out our blog post on how to define and measure your organization’s DEI goals.

Whether you’re training in-person or online, you’ll want to pay close attention to employee engagement and feedback.

  • Does the training provide opportunities to prompt and collect feedback?
  • Are employees able to access and complete the training on time?

The best training out there should garner a minimum 25% of employees giving feedback with at least 70% of employees rating the training positively.

Does sensitivity training for employees work?

When done right, effective sensitivity training can make a major impact on the daily lives of employees and the annual goals of an organization. The best training providers can actually be a partner to you, supporting the needs of your organization and saving HR and People teams hours of their monthly workload.

How Ethena makes a difference

Ethena was originally founded by two women as a Harassment Prevention provider that focused on inclusive, engaging training content designed to actually change workplace behaviors. Since then, it has evolved to solve the headaches for employees and HR teams alike, and is an excellent choice for HR leaders looking to cover their sensitivity training needs and then some.

Ethena’s Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion training focuses on bringing understanding, compassion, and celebration into the workplace with a spectrum of content – like short videos, audio options, graphic novels, and more. (Plus, Ethena covers all of the topics we listed above.)

Ethena’s training platform:

  • Integrates with many human resources information systems (HRIS)
  • Automates training assignment and refresher courses
  • Delivers employee-specific training directly to employee inboxes via magic link
  • Provides engagement and completion data on the homepage so HR teams can spend as much (or as little) time as they need overseeing their training programs

And with Ethena, administrators can save time on the backend and reinvest that time in their organization. Check out how we helped save tons of time for the HR team at Storybuilt. It’s a win-win!

Get employee sensitivity training that works

Interested in exploring Ethena’s catalog of courses and best-in-class training platform? Talk to a member of our team to learn how Ethena can help you reach your goals.

And if you’re curious to learn more about how Ethena’s Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion course can provide the sensitivity training you need, check out our course page and request a sample training in seconds.