Each week, TTA receives dozens of inquiries from clients with problems to solve. We’ve changed the names and a few of the details, but these situations are very real. For help in meeting an L&D challenge in your organization, please reach out to us here.
We are having some real issues with harassment and race relationships in our warehouses. It’s gotten bad enough that it has impacted turnover. Unfortunately, this has been a legacy problem that has gone on for some time. We’ve tried to address it with our in-house resources, but we’re wondering if an outside expert may be better received. Depending on the warehouse, English may not be their native language. Also, those that can speak some English may struggle with reading it. We’re looking for an interactive training. We were thinking of setting aside a day where the team members must collaborate with each other. We have a large workforce in several states, however, and don’t know how to make that feasible. We really can’t stop work or slow it down in order to bring everyone together (and we don’t really have a space that would accommodate everyone). And did I mention that we want to pull this off within the next couple of weeks?
Worried in the Warehouse
Dear Worried in the Warehouse,
Here’s the tough love: I’m afraid that doing a one-day training in the context that you describe would probably not result in the change that your organization needs. When you see headlines in the news (of Starbucks, for example, closing their stores for a day to do inclusive bias training), you’re not seeing a model for a great learning experience. You’re seeing a symbolic and very public demonstration of the organization’s willingness to do something. Most experts in this field would agree that this type of one-hit intervention will be highly unlikely to succeed. What would succeed? Well, it’s hard to prescribe an exact approach without a little more analysis.
This is where we would start. First, we need to identify the various types of issues that you’ve described. Your inquiry already tells a lot. Here’s a quick summary of what we can see on the surface:
- Harassment issues that may be related to the race issues but may include other types of harassment as well
- Race relationships with related language issues and challenges specific to the local demographics at certain warehouse locations
- Employee turnover and retention
- Culture issues(suggested by the legacy nature of the problem) indicate that this is bigger than just a few difficult individuals
- An in-house L&D and/or HRdepartment without the resources to handle the scale of this problem
- Bilingual instruction required (but maybe this suggests other language issues with management, etc.)
- A need to scale without negatively impacting the outcomes at each warehouse
Based on the inquiry, we would recommend looking at the full range of issues that are contributing to this situation. Because TTA’s network of associates includes experts in change management and legal compliance in addition to experts in diversity and inclusion training, we can scale the right assessment for your organization. For example, it’s highly likely that the language issues that you describe pose more than a training challenge. We would want to study your context in detail, but I suspect that these issues also pose management and team collaboration issues. You probably need a more comprehensive recommendation for change management that also includes leadership training rather than a one-hit session on inclusive bias. It’s also worth noting that much of the inclusive bias training available on the market is geared towards knowledge workers. Your audience is different and would need a program that has examples and concepts to which your warehouse employees will relate.
You rightly understand the complexity of the situation. You’re facing multiple locations, multiple languages, scheduling issues, and logistics. You really do need a partner that can find you not just any diversity & inclusion trainer but one who is bilingual, who can adapt the content to a warehouse environment (not an office), and who can consult with you on related issues. You will likely also need a program manager to support the scheduling and logistic issues. The good news is that you’re aware of the complexities. And, because TTA has a global network of more than 20,000 associates, we will be able to provide the on-demand expertise you need to get started within your two-week timeframe. As I noted, we’ll likely be recommending a longer-term solution, but TTA has the talent!
Ready to help,