The goal of any training is to improve knowledge retention and this is especially important when delivering safety training. There are significant costs associated with training that has a direct hit on production levels. Including the preparation of materials, delivery (sometimes by external training providers) and the costs resulting from staff away from the job.
However, in most first world countries there is the requirement to meet training compliance obligations. There is a need to provide evidence of ongoing worker competence. As an organisation you have little choice but to train staff. Most companies provide a safety induction, tool box meetings and safety talks. Many provide additional training in high risk activities, emergency response, first aid and manual handling. One of the main aims in providing safety training is to upskill staff to perform their duties more efficiently and safely. To ensure that they do not endanger themselves or others. However, how do you know that you are getting value for the dollars spent on training? This post discusses knowledge retention, return on investment and value for money.
How do you know that what you are training is being retained?
Professional trainers are judged by their ability to impart knowledge and this is measured by the comprehension and knowledge retention rate of their ‘students’. And here in lies the first problem. Their choice of training delivery method has a significant impact on comprehension and knowledge retention.
Research shows that when training is presented using traditional classroom delivery methods, attention wanes. When you use power point presentations, the attention of the student begins to drop off as early as the seven-minute mark. This is mainly due to the lack of interaction, and the repetitiveness of the content. The repretitive presentation and the use of generic examples fails to resonate. That’s why trainers show a slide or two and then get the students to stand up and do exercises to wake them up.
If face-to-face training is not effective, then why waste your time and money? You could just do away with the trainer and move all your training delivery to e-learning delivery. Here in lies the same problem. Delivering power point presentations online in an e-learning platform doesn’t increase the attention rate either. The mind begins to wander at the seven-minute mark, just as it did in the classroom delivery. This is due to the same lack of interaction, repetitiveness of the content, boring presentation and the use of generic examples. Watching a presentation on a computer or tablet has a further element of disconnection, because the student can be very easily distracted.
How can you achieve a better return on investment to embed more of the trained knowledge?
Adding to the problem of the retention of learning is the human brain. Research also shows that immediately after a training session typically only 50% of what was trained has been embedded as new knowledge. Within a week a further 25% is lost. After a month between a mere 10-15% of what was trained has been retained.
There are four important steps to improve knowledge retention:
The first step is to move workplace safety training out of the classroom and deliver it in the workplace whenever you can. Research shows that in taking this simple step, where the training is delivered and immediately applied, almost 100% knowledge retention can be achieved. Utilisation of training delivered on mobile devices is one method you can use to successfully achieve this first step.
The second step is to include interaction within the workplace safety training content. Engage the student using interactive methods e.g. quizzes, competitions and most effectively – gaming. Mobile applications are particularly effective here.
Third, draw on realistic, relatable content. Use pictorial and video examples of safety issues you are experiencing in your work areas. Generic examples and photographs of other organisations simply don’t work because there is no personal or emotional connection. Customisation of the training content is essential.
Finally, be mindful of the user experience. The quality of the pictorial content that you use, e.g., images and video, must be of high quality. The layout of the safety training exercise and the interaction required to complete the training must be engaging. When the quality is low it creates a mental ‘jar’ and interrupts the flow of learning and subsequent knowledge transfer. Be mindful of the training programmes you deliver and use quality as a differentiator.
Some recent US research looked at the effectiveness of using augmented 360-degree panoramas of live construction sites to improve the hazard-identification skills of construction workers. The results showed that 360-degree panoramas and augmentation are a major advantage in safety training effectiveness. See our post on how immersive methods can improve safety training.
By changing the methods of delivery in your safety training you can achieve what you set out to do: training that results in better retention of learning. When we retain learning there is a high likelihood of a direct transfer of knowledge into a positive change in behaviour. When this applies to safety training, effective training will help to reduce workplace injuries.
See our post on the ability of employees to recognise, recall and report workplace hazards.
How can you achieve value for money?
Organisations spend a considerable proportion of their budgets on training their employees. Traditionally training required hours or days off work at a direct cost to business. The move to online training has helped to reduce the overall costs. However, most training is charged out at a significant cost per head. There is a new way to deliver training at a fraction of the cost traditionally paid. Training that meets compliance requirements. Completed in a micro-learning format with modules finished in 15 minutes. Training that and can be accessed online and on smart devices. All the while achieving high quality and an engaging user experience.
Tap Into Safety has a new per use ‘credits’ pricing model which provides access to both our safety and mental health training for a low fee. There are no lock in contracts or subscription fees. Once registered, employers have access to predictive results that indicate trends in employee safety knowledge and wellbeing.
Most importantly, once a business is registered on the Tap Into Safety Platform, continued access to the reporting is available. You can access your data to predict trends. In addition, employees can access the help seeking features and support resources, at no charge to the business.
Organisations only pay for the training and assessment modules that they use in their workplace safety and mental health campaigns.