Is Your Safety Training Losing its Luster?

Aerial Crane It may or may not come as a surprise considering the topic but training for any reason should have an expected positive outcome that makes a positive impact. Companies and organizations often times will “go through the motions” of conducting training but unfortunately never seem to realize any benefit.  Training becomes a “must do” compliance event and the employees have the “can’t wait until this is over” attitude while in attendance. This is a very difficult situation (and audience type) even for the most experienced and knowledgeable professional trainer.

There are some very good hints and ideas for making your training sessions more appealing and effective in terms of memory retention of the audience members. First, try including some background information on your company/organization as it pertains to the safety culture and history of safety initiatives at your organization. Yes, you may have to do a little research yourself to get the company history and story accurate and complete. However, this will give your employees a big picture sense of where the organization has come from in terms of safety and training and where it is going. Adults are more inclined to learn and apply what they are taught when the content of the topic is relevant and applicable to what they are doing on the job. Include some very basic facts and figures of safety and accident trends and events and what the executive team expects in the future months and years for the safety culture.

Next, before launching into your PowerPoint or training manual presentation, try some simple questions to preface the upcoming instruction for your audience. Try asking each attendee the following:

  • Why do you think we do these safety classes?
  • What do you want to get out of this training class?
  • Why did you choose your current job and why did you choose to work at this company?
  • What information is or isn’t important to you when it comes to safe operation of this equipment?
  • What would you like to see in the course that we don’t have already included?
  • Etc……………….

Note: Don’t hand out a survey of these questions to try and accomplish the same thing here. People respond more thoughtfully if they have to verbalize their answers and opinions and some may feel anxious about a written document, too.

Such questions presented verbally by the instructor will force the audience to stop and think of the message and then respond verbally in the presence of their peers and colleagues. All responses should be respected and no one should feel that they cannot reply because their response will be seen as dumb or stupid. Keep this forum open and free of scrutiny by anyone and correct anyone who makes a negative comment about another’s ideas or response. This part should be done in the introduction of the course and should take maybe 5 or 10 minutes, tops.

In some cases, responses will be clever and actionable for you. You will be able to make changes to your content and training timeline as a result and your training instruction will be much more impactful and interesting to your employees. They will actually tell you that the training was “good” and even “much better than past years” if you then actually make the changes or “tweaks” that they suggest and comment about. You should expect some comments and responses to be unreasonable, too. This is just a “limit test” by the audience to see how far the “limit” is on their suggestions and what you will do with them.  Don’t be alarmed or get derailed off topic if some of the comments are, in fact, ridiculous or unrelated. As you conduct more and more training sessions and build on the feedback you get on each session, you will soon learn what your particular company culture demands of you as a trainer. You will then know where your content, delivery style or physical training features are effective or not in making the course interesting and memorable.

Good luck and good training!!!