Loss Control Insights
12 Ideas to Make Safety Training Less Boring
Who says employee training has to be boring? Neil Wysocki, EMC Program Development Engineer, thinks training can be engaging and even fun at times. Neil has come a long way in his training skills and admits, “At first, most of my training sessions were based on PowerPoint slides.”
Now, Neil relies on hands-on activities, and he recognizes that workers have a wide range of learning styles. “I’m an engineer, not an educator, but I have learned a few strategies about adult learning through the years. These basics have helped me develop my training techniques.” Neil stresses the importance of reaching all employees and helping them comprehend the material they need to learn. He suggests incorporating the three primary learning styles: visual, auditory and kinesthetic–also known as seeing, hearing and doing.
Interactive Safety Training Methods
While simply lecturing to employees is a poor way of communicating, it is essential to set aside some short time blocks for discussions to help get new information across. Fortunately, some training topics seem ready-made for more interactive delivery methods. For example, forklift training is a great choice for hands-on testing and show-and-tell demonstrations. Other topics, especially those covering potential hazards or hypothetical situations, might be better handled with a video detailing what can happen when proper procedures aren’t followed.
Four Safety Training Tips
Neil offers four basic steps to teaching that efficiently get workers on board:
- Start with short lectures or break up lecture time into short bursts among other learning methods.
- Demonstrate the correct way to perform a skill. If covering a hazardous hypothetical situation, play a video showing what to do (or what not to do) under the circumstances.
- Have employees practice the task with someone, such as a supervisor, watching and providing immediate feedback.
- Allow time for the worker to practice the skill on their own. Sometimes trying and failing before succeeding helps employees remember what they learned.
Using the four steps, incorporate the following tried-and-true methods into your training routine. From Neil’s experiences, these methods can boost understanding and retention while keeping employees from getting bored.
Provide Mentorship and Employee Testimonials
Get long-time employees to tell a story. “New employees love hearing about how an older worker messed up and the results of that error,” Neil explains. But be sure the story ends with information on what should have occurred to prevent or correct the error.
It's a good idea to have a veteran employee teach a skill to a younger mentee or group of new hires. Newer employees tend to appreciate learning from an equal rather than a supervisor. And this practice should help the veteran employee feel respected. Just be sure the employee is performing the task correctly before they are allowed to train.
Create Group Training Activities
Use small group learning for discussion, problem solving and practice. This method gives the workers the chance to learn from each other and create camaraderie. An occasional friendly competition among groups can add a bit of excitement, especially when prizes involved.
One option is to develop problem-solving scenarios. “Discuss a specific job situation and a what-to-do-if-this-happens question,” he says. Listen to the responses and discuss which might work best, stressing that there are multiple options to think about. A possible activity to consider is having trainees rank possible outcomes.
You can also encourage employees to partner up while they learn the correct way to do a task, such as a lifting or cleaning procedure. Make sure to ask trainees to demonstrate tasks to a supervisor to ensure they are doing it correctly.
Find Specific Workplace Training and Development Programs
Tailor your training for your specific work environment. Some purchased training programs may fit the required number of training hours but may not include skills or scenarios your employees need to know. Neil warns, “You’ll lose their attention during training that isn’t pertinent to their jobs and responsibilities.
Keep an eye out for new training options. According to Neil, virtual reality training may soon be the hot new thing. “Virtual reality will take trainees closer to what the ‘real’ experience is like,” he says. Research shows that people retain information better through virtual reality than working on a computer because of the immersive experience. Additionally, virtual reality can be particularly valuable for jobs where practicing in real life is difficult, such as firefighters, emergency responders and other emergency personnel.