This post is the first in a series that reveals the best practices and latest developments presented by experts on the leading edge of safety training at our 11th annual Engage conference.
Training — or being responsible for training a team or workforce — can be overwhelming. Gene Barnard, Director of Quality at The Gluten Free Bar, understands this completely, and offers some words of relief: you don’t have to train every employee on every single course offered, all at one time. In fact, you don’t have to come up with your own original training.
“Shamelessly steal best practices,” Barnard says. “It’s legal! It’s encouraged!”
In fact…steal these best practices that you can start using in your facility today!
Divide and Conquer
What’s worked swimmingly for Barnard is spreading training out over an entire year, as it:
makes it easier to commit to smaller blocks of time
offers better flexibility
is more manageable, content-wise
keeps it fresh and relevant (most importantly!)
Employees tend to lose interest after 30-60 minutes, he says, so you’ll want to be strategic when timing the training — for instance, “don’t schedule multiple consecutive training days unless you want to turn your workers into zombies,” Barnard says matter-of-factly.
Optimally, topics broken into 15-20 minute training sessions are ideal.
Don’t Plan on Winging It
Planning out in advance will be such a stress-reducer for you. Planning to fly by the seat of your pants is no plan at all. You’ll miss the opportunity to educate on important topics—and /or it won’t happen on time.
So, make sure to book that training room in advance—to ensure you have a spot for learning, and make sure that all equipment is there, working, fully charged, and ready to perform.
One more key tip: backup batteries. These little guys often die at the most inconvenient of times, even if you’ve checked them and they are working fine the day before! Have backups ready to whip out at a moment’s notice so that your momentum isn’t interrupted.
Be Inclusive with Your Content
Absolutely plan to include these features in your training:
Multi-lingual content: When you deliver in the learners’ language, it increases comprehension.
Easy to understand content: This industry often has employees with varying education levels, so carefully consider what verbiage, context, visual options you use to ensure comprehension
Engaging content: Trainees want to be “edu-tained.” When appropriate, use humor. Integrate knowledge checks/quizzes throughout to keep them engaged.
Training isn’t effective if it stops when you leave the classroom – it must be reinforced. This can be done constantly and consistently throughout the year.
Barnard takes the opportunity during pre-shift meetings to ask employees for examples of real-life applications of the safety training. This keeps safety as a front and center priority and refreshes the content.
Your Trainer Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect
Subject matter experts or supervisors/managers are top choices—just remember that Alchemy courses deliver consistency in presentation so even a beginner trainer can facilitate a top-notch training session!
Divide and Conquer, Part II
Barnard also divides training between multiple people, as it:
Means less work for any one individual
Allows the trainer to develop key talking points and supporting material in advance
Can combine multiple work groups into the same course
“I also coordinate make-up classes for retakes or missed training sessions,” Barnard says.
Inject Fun and Breaks into Training Sessions
After covering several courses in a training session, Barnard loves inserting a “Lightning Round” prior to a much-needed break. He also has a winner pick a random number and then gives the class a break for that many minutes.
Track Your Training
Keeping records can help you show progression in workplace safety, product quality, and employee productivity. One way is to use Alchemy’s digital Learning Plan reports to track training completion. You can send updates to leadership
Before You Go . . .
Before closing the training, ask your workers for one or two key things they learned and can apply today. It’s a great way to cinch up the training and provide reinforcement.
Remember: make a plan, divide it up into manageable bits, create content that can be learned by each group, reinforce the material throughout the year, and inject a sense of positivity, fun, and humor. Engaged employees are successful employees!