When it Comes to Training, Engagement is the Name of the Game
05/07/2021 | Greg Duncan, MELP, EHS & Sustainability Expert at VelocityEHS
EHS professionals know that training is the cornerstone of safety. It is the fundamental source of knowledge and skills workers need to do their jobs safely, and one of the most visible ways that workers engage with our workplace safety programs and culture.
The immense value and importance that businesses place on training is demonstrated by the fact that in 2016, companies across the U.S. spent an estimated $70 billion on training. Four years later, expenditure on workplace training in the U.S rose to $82.5 billion in 2020 and the trend continues upward.
But there’s a big problem. A Wall Street Journal article noted that despite the massive investment in worker training, 90% of new skills are forgotten within 12 months. This alarmingly low level of training retention leads us to one glaring conclusion. We need to find ways to more effectively engage workers with our training programs and training content so that learning sticks and we get the greatest ROI from our training investment.
The Value of Training Engagement
Engaging workers with our safety programs has long been a top priority for safety professionals. A 2017 study by EHS Daily Advisor showed that 98% of more than 500 safety professionals surveyed said they believe greater worker participation (i.e. engagement) contributes to improved safety performance. However, when asked to rate worker engagement with their safety programs, 72% said they experience only limited to moderate participation. There is clearly progress to be made in terms of engaging our workers.
It’s worth the effort because there are real, quantifiable benefits to increased worker engagement. Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report found that companies with more engaged workers realized the following benefits compared to organizations who reported lower levels of participation:
- 17% Higher Productivity
- 21% Higher Profitability
- 41% Lower Absenteeism
- 59% Lower Turnover
- 70% Fewer Safety Incidents
These are significant gains that ultimately translate to a stronger business and workplace safety culture, but how do we get there? How do we better engage our workers?
Training as a Catalyst for Engagement
As I mentioned before, training is one of the most direct and visible ways that workers engage with our safety programs. Successful engagement with our training programs and content achieves a significant first step toward overall workplace safety engagement. Success in engaging workers in our training programs means tapping into what motivates them. What makes workers actually want to learn and absorb training information, and more actively participate in training activities?
One of the essential strategies for motivating workers to engage with training is by delivering training information in the ways and modes they prefer. This includes providing a learning experience for workers that is enjoyable, stimulating and interactive. It almost goes without saying that everyone learns differently, but the more engaging learning is, the more training information will be retained.
Some specific training tools you can apply to your training program that are proven to strengthen engagement include:
Learning Management System (LMS) software
For workers, LMS software offers centralized, ready access to training content and other important training information including schedules and assignments, completion and scores, training requirements and curricula. LMS software also facilitates more open and direct communication between learners and instructors via messaging and notifications features that keep learners more closely connected to our training programs. The improved coordination and communication of training information, when presented to learners through an intuitive, easy-to-use user interface makes LMS software an impactful tool for driving worker engagement with our training programs.
By 2017, 77% of U.S. businesses were incorporating eLearning in their training programs. Why? eLearning content has been shown in numerous studies to boost knowledge retention by an impressive 25-60%. Adding eLearning to your training program can be costly, but IBM published some results from their own implementation of eLearning and found that for every dollar they spent, the company claims it achieved $30 in increased productivity. In addition to workers being able to return to their work faster, IBM showed that productivity gains also came from the ability of employees to apply their newly acquired skills straight away. IBM also found that those enrolled in eLearning courses learned more than five times as much material compared to traditional lessons. A big reason for the success of eLearning appears to stem from how it presents information. eLearning makes use of micro-learning and self-paced instruction that allows workers to consume information in smaller, more digestible chunks making it easier to absorb and understand how concepts interact with each other.
Data from eLearning Industry shows that today, more than 67% of organizations said that they offer mobile learning of one kind or another, with 99% of those organizations expressing that mobile learning enhances their experience. We already rely on mobile devices to stay connected to virtually every aspect of our lives, so why not tap into this technology to deliver training where and how learners prefer. eLearning content and mobile LMS access allows learners can take courses in whatever subjects they like, no matter where they happen to be at the time.
Learner Profiles and Individualized Learning Paths
Workers each have their own unique training needs, determined by factors like job roles, experience, location and regulatory requirements. They also all have their own unique learning styles, preferences, professional development goals and motivations that impact how they learn. Successfully engaging workers with our training programs means delivering training that is responsive to learners’ individual training needs, characteristics and goals, and that means detailed tracking of learner profiles. Not only does learner profile information provide the basis for trainers to identify and address learners’ individual training needs, but learners can see and even influence the development of their own professional development paths. What could be more engaging?
Final Thoughts on Training Engagement
There’s a quote I learned a long time ago that has stayed with me decades on. It says, “For training to be effective, learning must take place.” I’ve since added to this quote with the knowledge that for learning to take place, learners must be engaged. We saw earlier just how much money and resources companies pump into their training programs, but it’s like filling a bucket with a hole in it unless training knowledge and skills are retained. To maximize training retention (and the ROI of our training investment) we need to find ways to motivate workers to engage with our training programs.
VelocityEHS Can Help!
VelocityEHS Training & Learning is a purpose-built LMS software solution that gives EHS professionals an all-in-one system to coordinate and track your training activities, deliver interactive e-Learning content and help drive training program performance across your organization. Our intuitive, mobile user interface gives your workers an immersive and engaging learning experience, while trainers and managers get versatile administrative controls and reporting features that simplify even your most complex training tasks.
Request a Demo today to learn how VelocityEHS Training & Learning solutions can help drive engagement with your workplace training program.