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As many of you will know as HR professionals, leaders and business owners, your organisation’s line managers and team leaders stand as the frontline guardians of organisational culture, productivity, and positive employee relations. They are often the first port of call for employee conflict and concerns, they are drivers of performance and engagement, and may be the greatest point of risk for an organisation if they are not equipped with the right skills and training to effectively manage workplace issues.

Without the necessary training and awareness of employment law obligations and common workplace challenges, they risk steering their teams into turbulent legal waters, with potentially dire consequences for both individuals and the organisation as a whole.

So what we can we do to support them, and in turn, support our organisation and our people?

In this guide, Mary Cullen, Founder & Managing Director here at Insight HR, outlines her advice and guidance on the importance of a robust training programme for managers and leaders, and how to effectively craft and deliver this, in order to make a real difference to employee performance, relations and engagement.

P.S. Join the Insight HR team for our free monthly webinar on Wednesday 29th of May at 11:15am, when we will be discussing all things learning & development!

We’ll guide you through L&D strategies, training needs analyses, learning styles, getting buy-in, and everything in between, in this free and practical event, aimed at HR teams and employers who want to know more about developing their employees and their organisations. 

Register for this free webinar, right here!

For now though, read on!


Firstly, why is this important?

According to a report by the WRC, the number of employment equality complaints received increased by 22% in 2021 compared to the previous year, underscoring the growing prevalence of workplace disputes. Well-publicised research from 2020 found that workplace bullying costs the Irish economy over €230 million annually. And a survey conducted by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) found that 1 in 7 people experienced workplace harassment based on grounds such as gender, age, race, disability, or sexual orientation (the actual number of incidents is likely much higher due to underreporting).

With the prevalence of issues like these affecting Irish workplaces, many employees are seeking support and remedial action from their employers, with line managers often being the first port of call to provide employees with a welcome ear and some clarity on how the organisation will deal with the challenge they’re having.

On top of this, it has also been a busy period for employment law updates and new people-focused policies that managers simply need to know about, but we’ll get into more detail on that shortly.

And, of course, as we always say, even if organisations do have a wide-ranging and all-inclusive suite of policies, simply having policies is only half the battle. Don’t just launch them and leave them. The next key step is effectively communicating these policies to your managers and employees. In addition to sending company-wide emails, ensure that front line managers are able to cover these topics in team meetings, can recognise breaches of policy, can inform employees of reporting procedures and supports, and know what to do and how to do it if an employee raises a very serious issue with them.

A busy period for employment law updates!

As we mentioned, it really has been a busy time for employment law updates – from more people-focused policies appearing in the market, to progress made to many areas in the worklife balance act, and codes of practice for topics like remote working, bullying and more governing how workplaces should work, there is now more for a line manager to be aware of than ever before.

Take for example, the great clarity we now see with the arrival of paid domestic violence leave. This is a fantastic and welcome addition to the landscape of Irish workplaces, providing clarity and support to people going through very harrowing situations. Therein lies another important consideration though – are your line managers equipped to fully support an employee in these situations, providing a welcome and open ear, directing victims to the relevant supports, and clearly outlining how the organisation can help them?

Or what about dignity at work issues such as bullying, harassment and sexual harassment? If these issues are not managed correctly by whoever is the first port of call, then the experience an employee can have when raising these serious issues can greatly vary depending on how they are received, informed and supported.

Similarly with mental health supports, miscarriage leave, menopause policies, fertility, parenting and much more, while the progress has been welcomed, line managers may be fearful of the range of topics they must be equipped to know and support on.

Probation, performance management, disciplinary procedures, grievances, the list goes on (and they’re almost all covered on our other blogs right here), so what can we do to get started and tackle training needs for our line managers and our organisation?

Where are the gaps in skills and capabilities? Should I conduct a training needs assessment?

Begin by conducting a thorough needs assessment to identify gaps in managers’ knowledge and skills. Analyse past grievances, legal claims, and employee feedback to pinpoint recurring issues and areas for improvement.

When was the last time you covered certain topics? Has the law changed since then?

Have we seen issues appearing in certain areas of the business, or with certain behaviours and common complaints?

Do you need to be proactive in preparing training for something that’s coming down the line?

As the old Irish saying goes, “Tús maith, leath na hoibre” (A good start is half the work) – so don’t underestimate the importance of finding out which training or topics you need to cover, and how you do it, instead of jumping at any of the missing gaps!

Good point – how should I deliver this training within my organisation?

It is vitally important to tailor the training curriculum to address specific organisational needs and challenges, but also to cater the delivery of the training to your audience. What are their learning styles? Where will this be delivered? How can we measure success?

Consider asking yourself those questions, and pay heed to some of the following considerations.

  • For certain topics it may be very useful to incorporate case studies and real-life scenarios relevant to the organisation’s industry and context. For policies relating to discrimination or dignity at work for example, provide real-world examples of behaviours that are considered to be inappropriate or unacceptable.
  • Once-off sessions may not simply be enough for most topics. Consider conducting regular refresher sessions, providing accessible resources, and promoting open communication channels for feedback etc. Organise periodic clinics or Q&A sessions where managers can seek clarification on complex legal issues and receive guidance from subject matter experts.
  • Walk your leaders through the steps they should take related to any policies which require a reporting aspect (whistleblowing, theft, harassment etc.)
  • Leaders at all levels should exemplify the behaviours expected of employees. Encourage senior leadership to be champions across a range of policies respectively, demonstrating their commitment to creating a respectful and inclusive environment.
  • Consider interactive learning. Promote active engagement through interactive learning methods such as group discussions, role-playing exercises, and scenario-based simulations. Encourage managers to share their experiences and perspectives, fostering a collaborative learning environment conducive to skill development and knowledge retention.
  • Utilise technology to deliver training modules efficiently and cost-effectively. Virtual classrooms, e-learning modules, and webinars offer flexibility and scalability, enabling managers to access training resources at their convenience.
  • Encourage mentorship! Pair junior managers with seasoned mentors or coaches who possess expertise in employment law and workplace management. A sense of teamwork and knowledge-sharing at the line manager level not only makes this group more effective, but may also lead to permeation throughout the organisation.

Should I seek third-party support?

Specialised Knowledge: Third-party providers specialising in employment law training offer depth of expertise and industry-specific insights that internal resources may lack. Their trainers are not only up to speed with the latest developments, legislation and case law, but they also possess first-hand experience in navigating complex legal scenarios, allowing them to enrich training sessions with practical wisdom and real-world examples.

Objective Assessment: External trainers bring objectivity and impartiality to the training process, free from internal biases or conflicts of interest. They can conduct comprehensive assessments of organisational needs, tailoring training programs to address specific challenges and objectives effectively.

Risk Mitigation: By investing in third-party support, organisations mitigate the risk of overlooking critical compliance issues or gaps in training. External providers bring a fresh perspective and a wealth of best practices gleaned from working with diverse clients across various sectors.


The good news?

You guessed it. Insight HR can help.

Insight HR has been working with Irish businesses in this area for over twenty years. We provide a suite of training across a wide range of workplace-related challenges and compliance, with training available in person, online or on-demand, tailored to suit your needs and circumstances.

From our online and on-demand dignity at work investigations training course, to our in-person disciplinary and grievances training for line managers and many more, Insight HR can provide the training programme you need, to support you and your organisation.

So whether it’s reviewing policies, updating contracts and handbooks, or providing that in-person or online training, the team here at Insight HR will give you quality, consistent, and tailored service, equipping your organisation and your people with the skills and confidence they need to succeed.

If you’d like to hear more about how we can support you with this, and any other HR challenges you might have, get in touch with us via email at or chat to us directly on 0567701060!

HR support, made simple.




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