HR Online Training: How To Address 5 Controversial Topics Without Rocking The Boat

HR Online Training: How To Address 5 Controversial Topics Without Rocking The Boat
Summary: How do you deliver difficult online training programs to HR teams whilst bringing them on-message? In this article, I share 6 tips to address controversial topics in HR online training without rocking the boat.

6 Tips To Deal With Controversial Topics In HR Online Training

Some HR online training topics are more divisive than others. Training HR teams to deliver difficult news can be a delicate task, as anything new always comes with a sense of fear and uncertainty. Some may disagree with the approach, but everyone will be expected to deliver the policies or strategies with the same public face, on board with the message. That can be difficult if your personal feelings and anxiety are at play. As such, the role of the eLearning developer creating HR online training is to assuage these doubts and fears. This means addressing the context and allowing corporate learners to practice carrying out a new behavior in a safe way.

5 HR Training Topics That Can Be Difficult To Deliver

There are always some online training programs that are more difficult than others to develop. HR online training will never be a “stand-alone” approach. In short, there should always be clear, honest and two-communications wrapping around the online element. To prompt your thinking, here are 5 difficult topics that may need to be delivered via HR online training:

1. Redundancy

The “personal touch” here is what people are expecting, since HR teams will be the front-line in delivering any redundancy programs. They, themselves, may even be impacted. Thus, online training here must acknowledge the personal emotions of those delivering the news.

2. Change In Terms & Conditions

Terms and conditions policies can have a far-reaching impact, now and into the future. There should be a thorough examination of language here so that HR colleagues can feel knowledgeable even on legal matters.

3. Pay Equity

Projects addressing pay equity issues may not involve every HR colleague. However, they should all feel ready to answer any questions that may arise. There should be a two-tier approach: inform and involve.

4. Harassment

HR online training topics around harassment policies should rely heavily on video, simulation, and branching scenarios. HR online training provides the ideal opportunity for employees to imagine how they might respond, and to learn from their mistakes. This also covers all aspects of harassment, from anti-bullying to inappropriate behaviors.

5. Restructuring Projects

Complex restructuring programs require a holistic view of organizational change, alongside a personal approach that addresses the impact on individuals. Thus, it’s important to address the HR community as a set of different groups. Each will demand a different level of education about the upcoming change. So, there should be strategic and tactical online training programs that address both the day-to-day challenges and the organizational ones.

Common Threads Amongst All “Controversial” HR Online Training Programs

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

1. Communicate With Authenticity

Ensure you wrap every online training element with relevant, engaging and two-way communication. If HR employees feel they understand the learning objectives and the background, then they are more likely to approach the HR online training positively.

2. Provide Opportunities For Role-Play

eLearning technologies such as simulations provide unmatched opportunities to test knowledge and skills. Ensure your corporate learners can try out what they are learning as they progress through the HR online training course. For example, HR employees can interact with virtual personas to see how they handle termination situations. Or engage in branching scenarios that help them see how harassment policies apply in real-world environments.

3. Focus On Infographics And Visual Elements

HR teams will be responsible for delivering difficult messages to the organization. Therefore, much of the HR online training topics will be about committing terms and concepts to memory. Use imagery wherever possible instead of words: graphical representations are far easier to retain. There should also be visually engaging online training tools they can offer organization-wide. Such as infographics that highlight the key takeaways of the anti-harassment course.

4. Ensure Clarity, Focus, And Consistency

Ensure the design of the HR online training course is minimalistic, with a focus on images and clear navigation. For instance, screens filled with text will promote the feeling of being overwhelmed, which leads to cognitive overload and diminishes the value of your HR online training course.

5. Offline Resources And Social Learning

We all need to be able to share and digest difficult subjects. Use your social platforms for online discussions and connections. Provide opportunities for focus groups to come together and discuss the issues in person, if possible.

6. eLearning Feedback

It’s going to be vital to check understanding of the HR online training topics. So, analyze online assessment and completion scores regularly and ask employees to give their eLearning feedback on how they felt the HR online training course went. Act quickly on any improvements that might be required. They need to know that they aren’t just being heard, but that their ideas carry weight. eLearning feedback also helps you keep that boat steady by giving employees a platform whereby they can voice their concerns. If they’re uncomfortable with a topic, they can turn to peers or superiors to address the issue one-on-one.


It’s true that we can’t predict how an individual will respond to a particular subject in HR online training. In fact, sometimes, we are asking them to behave in a way that will feel uncomfortable. But what’s important is that we use every resource available to us to ensure that a positive online training experience is delivered. For example, acknowledging the context and the issues around the topic will foster a sense of trust. We can also give employees the opportunity to test out their skills will build their confidence, and connect them via social channels will let them air their issues and find a resolution. No matter how controversial the subject matter, there are always tools to help ease the burden. We just have to be considerate and careful in our eLearning course design.

Is your current LMS helping you broach 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.