by Susan Crawford

How do you respond when you’re told not to do something, or you’re simply asked to comply with a request?

In many ways your response may come down to personality - some of us are compliant types and some of us are not. Some of us may comply if the right person asks.

If you rely on compliance as an influencing strategy your efforts are always going to be ‘hit or miss’ at best, and the required behaviours will have to be ‘policed’ in an ongoing way to sustain them. If you want people to ‘own’ their behaviour and self-regulate, you would need to work on the values, beliefs and assumptions that drive them.

Many organisations view EEO and Workplace Health and Safety training as compliance activities. As such they are often marginalised to checklists and online courses with accompanying checkbox tests. When this perspective is taken by organisations, a major opportunity to influence workplace culture and positively impact productivity and wellbeing at work is missed. This is due to two key factors:

1. Changing people’s behaviour requires deeper influence than compliance alone

2. This style of training is not going to influence the beliefs and values that drive the behaviours you are looking to cultivate.


Instead, viewing this training as an investment in workplace productivity and staff wellbeing shifts the emphasis from checking a compliance box and meeting a government regulation, to taking a proactive step in establishing a healthy workplace culture. Indeed, viewing this training as an opportunity to positively influence workplace culture or the ‘way we do things around here’ means that initiatives that operate at the behaviour change level would clearly be preferential. Culture Programs such as ‘Respect at Work’, when supported and reinforced by aligned management practice and workplace systems and policies, can make a positive difference to your workplace. When people are respected at work they are safer, more positive and more engaged. Why would any organisation pass up these benefits?

Over the last five years, FBG Group has formed enduring partnerships with two very different organisations – one, a large metropolitan local council and the other a global manufacturing organisation. We have designed and developed programs that seek to the shift assumptions, values and beliefs that drive discrimination, harassment and bullying behaviours through ‘Respect at Work’ training. Hallmarks of this training are that it seeks to engage staff and managers in conversations about the why, what and how of creating respectful workplaces and as such, seeks to shift the values, beliefs and attitudes that underpin behaviour. No amount of online compliance testing can do this.

These programs have led to two noticeable changes in both organisations:

These programs have given leaders the skills and the mandate that they need to grow respectful workplace cultures.

Interestingly, both organisations embarked on the training to respond to interpersonal issues and claims that were escalating and to ensure compliance with regulation, but keep coming back to the program to further enhance and improve workplace culture and in turn productivity and staff wellbeing. Staff response to the programs has also been overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic as they are about creating great places to work. After all, don’t we all want to work in places where our contributions are valued and noticed, and where we are treated with courtesy and respect?