Training can play an important role in the success of your business. Whether you are aiming for increased sales, more efficient production, reducing accidents and injuries, or working to create a reliable team that can solve its own problems, training is often the best solution. The best return on your training investment will be achieved by identifying the true training needs, taking a systematic approach to sourcing suitable training/trainers, and enrolling your employees in the right courses for the job.
Identify your Safety Training Needs
You should focus training efforts on areas where you can reap the biggest, fastest and best rewards. But before you can do this, you need to identify the skills gaps or training needs in your company and prioritize them. Some training needs are obvious. For example, there is regulatory compliance training that must be conducted upon hire and then with some future frequency. Other training needs can be harder to spot.
Answer the following questions to help you identify the training your employees need
- What are your obvious safety gaps, and how can those gaps be addressed, communicated and enforced?
- Does your company have issues getting or maintaining insurance? If so, are your safety program and safety training requirements lacking what is truly needed?
- Do you have repeated first aid or recordable injuries?
- Do you rely on one or two people for critical functions in your company? Many businesses rely on a couple people to complete particular technical operations. It is vital to document processes and train other employees as a precaution
- Is part of your team under-performing or not sure what to do in an emergency situation? Will training help to bring them up to speed?
Keep Training Relevant
To keep training relevant and focused, set SMART (specific, measurable, agreed, realistic and time-limited) objectives. For example, tell employees attending a job specific safety course that you hope to see a specified percentage improvement in their safety performance within six months. Spend the majority of training time on the critical areas of their job instead of equal time on all topics.
Involve Employees in Training Decisions
It is important to take the learning preferences of your staff into account. Find out how each employee prefers to learn. Some people may enjoy group learning, while others prefer individual study. Some people learn best by listening, others by watching and some by getting hands-on experience as soon as possible. Explain the different training options and let people know their training preferences are acknowledged.
Formulating a personal development plan for each employee is a great idea. This helps identify and prioritize training needs and provides a way to agree on how to best address these.
Developing your Training Plan
Once you have identified skill and knowledge gaps, the next step is to find the best form of training to achieve the results needed. Avoid finding training first, and then fitting this to your employees. Too often business owners will receive conference and training fliers or emails, and will select training that sounds ‘about right’ which may be vaguely relevant.
For optimal results, match your training with the needs of your company and the way your employees learn best.
‘Off-the-shelf’ Training Courses
‘Off-the-shelf’ training courses are one-size-fits-all courses that are not customized to your company. Your staff may share the class with employees from other businesses which may not be the best situation if your employees need to learn procedures specific to your company. Although, some off the shelf courses may suffice because they are designed to achieve or count towards a particular recognized qualification and then you can utilize other customized training for the specifics of your company.
Take care when deciding who will provide the training. The trainer must take the time to understand the company’s needs, be technically able to do the training and have the patience to teach or coach. Be sure to train the trainers, including training on how to break information down into small steps, how to progress at the pace of the trainee and how to set and achieve training goals.
Job shadowing involves one employee following another employee to learn all the aspects of a job. This is especially suitable for new employees as part of their induction. Shadowing is a painless way to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time.
Mentoring usually involves the informal transmission of knowledge and resources over a sustained period face-to-face and/or other methods of communication. Consider finding a mentor, and encourage senior employees, whose performance has a major impact on your business, to do the same.
Conferences, Seminars, Workshops and Courses
External trainers bring fresh ideas and energy into the learning process. Mixing external trainers with internal trainers and employees can be an opportunity to discover new perspectives. A good trainer should challenge the way your staff thinks and operates.
- Lectures and conferences – typically lots of information delivered to a large audience, with great networking possibilities
- Seminars and workshops – giving people information and letting them practice to simulate results
Online Courses as a Training Option
E-learning is a powerful and cost-effective way of introducing new ideas and approaches. It is especially useful when you need to train a large number of staff across different locations – for example, to demonstrate compliance with health and safety regulations. E-learning does not, however, let the user interact with others, such as in a classroom setting. Whenever appropriate use online courses coupled with a workshop to provide practical experience along with the explanations that can be provided online.
Assessing Your Training
Continual review and updates to training is key to keeping the training up-to-date and successful. Ask your employees to review their training experience. Find out if the training is relevant to the job and appropriate to their level of expertise.
Training assessment forms will help you discover more about the course and establish what worked and what didn’t.
When employees complete any training, discuss how their learning will be put into action. This will help you evaluate the training and ensure new skills are implemented.