Maximizing Your Workforce Training Investment
The first thing you want to know is who needs what training and then you have to figure out how you will spend your training dollars: whether you will buy training or whether you will build training.
When you buy training, you can sometimes buy what’s called “on demand training”, which means a course is available from a training provider and is intended to meet the needs of many organizations as is, satisfying broad compliance and skills needs.
Sometimes those courses can be tailored to meet the needs of a specific company or a specific site. Yet before you even determine whether you can build or buy, you need to figure out who needs what training, when they need it, and in what format.
Unfortunately, there are individuals in organizations who are responsible for providing training who have what I call a “check-box mentality.” They need to check the box that says they offered training, so they provide a one size fits all approach to training.
Lots of training is considered “all employees” training; OSHA standards refer to such training as “General Industry”. And while this may be true for some content, we encourage companies to take the time to evaluate who really needs what training. We recommend that you determine training needs on a job role and site specific basis, using a combination of Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) & North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code matching.
Let’s say you determine that your employees handle various chemicals including formaldehyde at some locations, but not all locations. It wouldn’t be necessary to have all your employees take the training on Formaldehyde. It also may not be necessary for the managers to take either the Chemical or the Formaldehyde Training. However, you may find that all employees—no matter their role or location—would benefit from a Fire Safety lesson.
Finding what each employee needs helps you save money but can also help with employees feeling valued. When employees are asked to take training that is not relevant to their job, it may lead to a negative attitude toward the training you provide. It’s important to provide just what they need when they need it. You must determine what tasks will be performed for each job role and what knowledge and skills are required to perform those tasks safely and correctly. A good place to start is with job descriptions. Or if your organization has documented procedures or process maps that indicate who performs each task, you can start there. You can also interview employees or managers and determine what they believe are training needs, and you can review incident reports to see what preventable incidences have been recurring.
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Something else you should consider is when is the training needed? If training will introduce a new procedure or control system, the training should occur close to the time when the change will be made. If it’s done too far in advance, a lot of what was learned will be forgotten before students have a chance to practice.
Or another thing to consider is… some training is seasonal. For example, offering Heat Stress training is most appropriate in the summer time. So not only does this help with learner retention and ultimately performance on the job, it may help you with budgeting those training dollars if you can spread your costs over multiple quarters.
Another helpful thing to determine is what delivery methods your employees will need for the content. If you have hundreds of people that need to be trained, it may be more efficient to consider online safety training. And if the employees need the content at a job site or in a lab—somewhere away from a desk—you may need to consider mobile delivery for some content.
After you determine what, when, and how you need each topic area, you need to determine if the content is available on demand. On demand content is typically cheaper because as we mentioned it’s intended to meet the needs of multiple organizations. So if the on demand content meets your needs, it is a great way to invest your training dollars wisely. If the training content you need is available online you won’t need to hire a trainer or have a facility that people have to travel to, and it typically takes less time for employees to complete it.
If you were a safety training officer, one thing you’d want to know is if your safety standards are different than what federal OSHA regulations require. If they are, then on demand training may be exactly what you need. If your organization has adopted higher standards than OSHA requires, you may need to do some tailoring. For example, maybe your organization requires personal protective equipment (PPE) in certain situations that OSHA doesn’t require. Or perhaps you have different standards at different sites. If so you’d need to determine if the on demand training is still an option. You’d need to determine if you can “tailor” the training to meet your needs or if—even with tailoring—the content will be confusing or misleading? If organizational and site differences can be addressed with changes to imaging, or perhaps with a printed supplement.