February 13th, Employee Legal Awareness Day, probably doesn’t sound too exciting. Perhaps it’s because anytime there are references to legal rights, corporate counsel, workplace policies, and handbooks, everyone in the room becomes uncomfortable. This needs addressing.
Employee Legal Awareness Day was created by Australian lawyer, Paul Brennan, as an internationally recognized effort encouraging companies to open a dialogue with employees about workplace policies in a positive, non-threatening manner. The day’s purpose is twofold: emphasize the importance of legal education for employees and businesses and reduce their risk of legal problems.
Here are three tips for making this year’s Employee Legal Awareness Day a hit!
- Use visuals: It is no longer enough to rely on OSHA posters to get the message across and educate employees about important workplace ordinances. These visuals can be posters, videos, or even e-blast weekly/monthly cartoon clips. Utilize humor to defuse the seriousness of the messages without losing the message being articulated. In fact, it may lead to greater retention, while also reducing people’s anxiety around the subject.
Take it a step further and use this as an opportunity for inter-departmental collaboration and team building. Include marketing and communications teams in strategy meetings when brainstorming how to best deliver these “less than comfortable” messages, whether it is enlisting their design skills or copy-writing expertise.
- Trivia night: Who doesn’t love some healthy competition? Take company happy hours to the next level with a Jeopardy or trivia game. Designate a category or two towards testing employee’s knowledge of their rights and company policies. The use of various “gamification” strategies are not new and are being used to improve employee morale and focus. It also allows the workplace to come together in a non-threatening way and discuss important and necessary topics.
- Online Courses: Provide access to digital modules which teach employees various corporate policies, and spread it out to one video every month or two weeks, so the material can be easily absorbed. Too often policies and regulations are quickly gone through, if at all, which makes the content hard to retain. These videos can be a re-creation of real-life situations with a short test at the end testing what the right course of action is based on corporate policies. Depending on the setup up, the user can be presented with a certificate for completion if s/he passed the test, which provides a sense of pride, as well as merits their hard work. Additionally, some folks prefer solo-learning and this provides another means to disseminate content.
While understanding workplace rights is important for all employees, it's essential that supervisors and managers are knowledgeable about company policies so they can answer questions their direct reports may have. The strategies above are just the tip of the iceberg on how to creatively educate employees on workplace policies, as knowledge of corporate policies increases employee engagement, productivity, resulting in collaborative and open office culture.