Canada Association of Tourism Employees

Controversial HR On-line Coaching Subjects

6 tips for dealing with controversial topics in HR online training

Some HR online training topics are more divisive than others. Training HR teams to convey difficult messages can be a delicate task as anything new is always associated with a feeling of fear and insecurity. Some may disagree with the approach, but everyone is expected to present the guidelines or strategies with the same public face, with the message on board. This can be difficult when your personal feelings and fears are involved. Hence, the role of the eLearning developer creating HR online training courses is to dispel those doubts and fears. This means dealing with the context and allowing learners in the company to safely practice performing a new behavior.

5 HR training topics that can be hard to get across

There are always some online training programs that are more difficult to develop than others. HR online training will never be a “stand-alone” approach. In short, there should always be clear, honest and two-part communication about the online element. To get your thinking started, here are 5 tough topics that may need to be taught through online HR training:

1. Redundancy

The “personal touch” here is what people expect as HR teams will be at the forefront of providing layoff programs. You can even be affected yourself. Hence, the online training here must acknowledge the personal emotions of those carrying the messages.

2. Changes to the general terms and conditions

Terms and conditions can have far-reaching implications now and in the future. A thorough check of the language should take place here so that the HR colleagues can also feel competent in legal matters.

3. Pay equity

Projects dealing with wage equity issues may not involve all HR colleagues. However, you should all feel ready to answer any questions that may arise. There should be a two-step approach: inform and involve.

4. Harassment

Online HR training topics on Harassment Policies should rely heavily on video, simulation, and branching scenarios. Online HR training is an ideal opportunity for employees to imagine how they might react and learn from their mistakes. This includes all aspects of harassment, from anti-bullying to inappropriate behavior.

5. Restructuring projects

Complex restructuring programs require a holistic view of organizational change as well as a personal approach that takes into account the effects on the individual. Hence, it is important to address the HR community as a number of different groups. Everyone will require a different level of education about the change ahead. Therefore, there should be strategic and tactical online training programs that address both everyday and organizational challenges.

Similarities among all “controversial” HR online training programs

While each situation is unique, there are opportunities for a “checklist” approach to designing HR courses. For difficult or controversial HR online training topics, there are several approaches that encourage full participation, engagement, and acceptance.

1. Communicate with authenticity

Make sure you cover each online training element with relevant, engaging, and two-way communication. If HR employees feel that they have understood the learning objectives and the background, they will approach HR online training more positively.

2. Provide opportunities for role play

eLearning technologies such as simulations offer unmatched opportunities to test knowledge and skills. Make sure that your learners in the company can try out what they have learned in the course of the HR online training course. For example, HR employees can interact with virtual personas to see how they deal with termination situations. Or take part in branching scenarios to help you see how harassment policies apply in real-world environments.

3. Focus on infographics and visual elements

HR teams are responsible for delivering difficult messages to the organization. Hence, many HR online training topics will be about keeping terms and concepts in mind. Use pictures instead of words whenever possible: graphics are much easier to remember. There should also be visually appealing online training tools that they can offer company-wide. For example, infographics highlighting the key findings of the anti-harassment course.

4. Provide clarity, focus, and consistency

Make sure that the design of the HR online training is minimalist, with a focus on images and clear navigation. For example, screens filled with text encourage the feeling of being overwhelmed, leading to cognitive overload and reducing the value of your online HR training.

5. Offline resources and social learning

We all need to be able to divide and digest difficult issues. Use your social platforms for online discussions and connections. Give the focus groups the opportunity to come together and discuss the issues face-to-face, if possible.

6. eLearning feedback

It will be important to review understanding of HR online training topics. So regularly analyze the online assessment and graduation results and ask employees to provide their eLearning feedback on how they felt about the HR online training. React quickly to any improvements that may be required. They need to know that not only are they being heard, but that their ideas carry weight. eLearning feedback also helps keep this boat stable by providing employees with a platform to voice their concerns. If you are uncomfortable with a topic, you can turn to colleagues or superiors to clarify the problem in a one-on-one interview.


It is true that we cannot predict how a person will react to any given topic in online HR training. In fact, sometimes we ask them to act in ways that make them feel uncomfortable. However, it is important that we use every resource available to us to ensure that a positive online training experience is provided. For example, recognizing the context and issues surrounding the topic promotes a sense of trust. We can also give our employees the opportunity to test their skills, build their confidence, and connect them through social channels so they can voice their problems and find a solution. No matter how controversial the topic, there are always tools available to help ease the burden. We just need to be considerate and careful with our eLearning course design.

Does your current LMS help you address challenging topics by incorporating social learning tools and personalized feedback into your strategy? If not, it may be time to look for a replacement. Use our free LMS online directory to find the ideal system for your HR online training program.


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