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What is Sensitivity Training and How to Implement it in the Workplace

A workplace built around diversity and inclusion can face many challenges along the way. 

Implementing a culture of integrity and respect is one of them. How can you get diverse employees to understand, respect, and accept each other’s differences? Sensitivity training is a great way to start.  

In this article, we will explain: what is sensitivity training and how you can successfully implement it in the workplace.

Check out EasyLlama’s workplace inclusion and diversity training. We feature sensitivity training for all employee levels so you can achieve a more productive workplace. Try a test drive of our training today.

What is Sensitivity Training?

Sensitivity training is a psychological technique that uses intensive group discussions and interactions to increase sensitivity to others as well as self-awareness of an individual's own prejudices. Usually, an unorganized meeting is held between members of different genders, abilities, races, and ages (to mention a few) in a workplace. Here, a passive leader maintains a safe space for participants to discuss different issues and build good interpersonal relationships among them.

Workplace sensitivity training is not specific to topics like preventing sexual harassment or discrimination, it also includes training on how to improve your emotional intelligence, deal with difficult personalities, or even gossip. 

This form of training is intended to make employees more aware of their own prejudices and help them gain more sensitivity towards others in the workspace. It is not just for people who have behavior problems in the workplace or for offices who experience a harassment or discrimination incident. Sensitivity training should be an ongoing effort to improve the environment in the office and it is an important part of an organization’s culture.

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Why is Sensitivity Training In The Workplace Important?


Sensitivity training in the workplace will increase the overall well-being of an organization, providing benefits for employees in all levels. Implementing regular sensitivity training is important in order to achieve:

Mutual trust among employees

Employees will gain more sensitivity and learn how to accept each other's differences. By getting to know and understand their team members, they will feel more comfortable in the workplace and it will be easier to create an environment of trust.

Increased communication with managers

Sensitivity training sessions can be used as an open and safe space for managers to interact with their team, without fear of judgment. This will help them gain a better understanding of their employee’s behaviors and get to see who they are as people. Being able to communicate better in an interpersonal way with their manager or supervisor will also make it easier for employees to reach out for help regarding work and non-work-related issues. 

A work environment free of discrimination

As employees gain awareness of their differences, issues like harassment, bullying, and other types of discrimination will decrease. Additionally, all information gathered during these interactions can help identify employees that can potentially be creating a hostile work environment. This makes it easier for the issue to be addressed in an effective manner.



Examples Of Workplace Sensitivity Training

These are some scenarios of how sensitivity training should be applied in the workplace:

  • Laura had been feeling uncomfortable with one of her co-workers’ constant jokes about Latin people. Being Mexican, she felt offended and one day decided to report him to her supervisor. To solve the problem, the supervisor implemented a series of sensitivity training sessions to allow everybody in the team to express how they feel about their co-worker’s behavior. 

    After a couple of sessions, he realized his jokes were also making other people uncomfortable and after sincerely apologizing to everyone, he stopped his behavior. Instead of just telling him to stop the jokes, sensitivity training helped him understand how he was affecting others and adopt a more empathetic behavior towards his co-workers.

  • John is a supervisor in a call center. He has noticed lately that his team members have not been getting along. They don’t help each other, are not participative during meetings, and are not enthusiastic about off-site activities. So he decided sensitivity training could help everybody express their concerns to figure out how they could get along better. 

    Turns out, the problem was their age differences. Their ages went from 18 to 50 years old. Sensitivity training helped the team members understand their different opinions, expressions, and ways of working. They agreed on different activities they would all enjoy doing as a team and how they could express their opinions in a way that everybody was comfortable with. This improved the well-being and even productivity of the team.
 
You can see how sensitivity training can be even more efficient than reprimanding your employees, but it is important that you deliver it correctly. Here’s what you need to keep in mind when implementing a workplace sensitivity training:



Steps to Implement Sensitivity Training

Sensitivity training has its focus on human diversity, but it doesn’t acknowledge only the physical differences. Sexual orientation, political ideology, and even different personalities in the group can make training sessions more challenging than you thought. Here are a few tips to successfully incorporate sensitivity training in your workplace:

Prioritize Communication


You would be surprised at how much you can actually learn from your employees when they are allowed to be sincere. The training environment should allow people to feel comfortable and speak up about their concerns knowing they will be taken seriously. 

When an issue is raised by a group member, it will cause a variety of feelings among the participants. They should be encouraged to verbally express these feelings and examine them so everybody can be understood.

Encourage Self-Reflection

Self-awareness allows people to look neutrally at their own feelings, emotions, and actions. During sensitivity training, conversations should bring up scenarios that encourage employees to think about how they would feel or act if they were in a similar situation. This will help achieve that self-reflection that is very much needed to cultivate empathy among the group.

Set Clear Expectations

While this is a space for employees to freely express their feelings and become comfortable with each other’s personalities, it is important to clarify your company’s expectations.

Make sure all participants understand the behaviors that will not be tolerated and what the goals are. Try not to provide only negative examples as it will make it harder for participants to engage. Instead, list the behaviors that would be considered successful and that you expect them to follow.

Ensure Continuous Learning

Sensitivity training is more effective when sensitivity training sessions are arranged to be constant and uninterrupted. Having several days of meetings that are continuous will also encourage follow-up actions and the ability to evaluate improvement in employee interactions. 

Additionally, creating posters, emails, and newsletters that promote diversity, inclusion, and sensitivity around the workplace is a great way to continue learning outside of training.

The Best Online Sensitivity Training

In addition to face-to-face interaction, a great way to expand your sensitivity training is through an online platform. But not any platform.

EasyLlama will be your best ally to provide diversity training as well as inclusion and sensitivity for your workplace. You will be able to track training progress in real-time, and employees can access the material easily on any device.

Our training material is easy to understand, based on real-life scenarios, and interactive to provide a more fun and engaging way to educate all levels of employees. 

Join us today!