pelotonRPM in the News: Study: Managers don’t know how to handle harassment complaints

By , HR Dive (

Dive Brief:
  • Managers and leaders aren’t “well-prepared” to deal with harassment, bias, discrimination, bullying and other workplace issues, according to a study by pelotonRPM, a company that offers virtual, role-play training to prepare teams for critical workplace conversations. The training platform got its study’s results by conducting these simulations with managers and other leaders, it said in the press release emailed to HR Dive.
  • The company found that when managers and leaders were approached by an employee with a harassment, bias, discrimination or bullying complaint, 39% did not ask questions to identify potential witnesses to an alleged incident; 41% did not ask questions, repeat facts or clarify details; 56% did not explain the anti-retaliation policy or define retaliatory behaviors to the complainant, witnesses or the alleged perpetrator; 25% did not explain to those involved in the matter that the situation will be escalated to HR; 30% did not detail specific next steps or explain or mention a potential investigation; and 56% did not explain that their company has an anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policy.
  • The company suggested that organizations can better prepare managers and supervisors by providing them with clear guidance; optimizing training; communicating important policies in a clear way; and having the CEO send a workplace ethics update to every employee every six months.
Dive Insight:
  • The pelotonRPM research noted that most complaints are made to managers rather than HR or legal, and experts have said supervisors and front-line managers are a major cause of bias claims brought by workers. For these reasons, training, especially for front-line managers, has long been considered an important aspect of preventing discrimination and harassment.The old compliance model of training — simply checking off the “completed” box — is diminishing, experts have said. Workers want training to be done in a modern way, Jeremy Auger, chief strategy officer at D2L previously told HR Dive. What is needed is more agile, personalized and continuous learning — something hard to do in the traditional way, Auger said. Personalization, virtual and augmented reality, online courses, microlearning, blended learning techniques and gamification are all making inroads into compliance and skill training.Effective training on sexual harassment prevention and remediation is particularly important in the #MeToo era (and it’s required by a number of states and localities). Over the past few years, according to a recent study, workplace sexual harassment has declined but gender harassment has increased. Another study found that overall sexual harassment has decreased, but not for African American women.